Lone Star Citrus Growers in Mission, TX, has made some significant strides in infrastructure coming into its seventh season, with upgrades in the packinghouse and office and its second season of fruit from its own groves coming off in great shape.
“We’re a growing company,” said partner and Vice President of Sales Trent Bishop. “We’re investing in new technology and opening up another production component in the packing plant, all automated. We’re adding a new bagger and we’ve also brought in two soft-touch packing machines that will bulk-pack grapefruit and oranges. With our expected growth this year we needed to make sure we had the added production capacity to keep up so we’ve reinvested in some equipment to increase our production.”
The company also recently redesigned its logo and launched a revamped website to tell its own story and that of Texas citrus history.
“We wanted to make sure we were keeping our image relevant. We wanted to make sure our website is informative and drive traffic with content about our company as well as information about our industry,” Bishop said. “It’s our intention going forward to do a series of videos that will educate the citrus-buying public with exactly what goes into the process of harvesting, packing and shipping Texas citrus. Over time, we want this website to be a true resource for anybody who wants to know anything about Texas citrus.”
Lone Star Citrus Growers farms its own citrus groves and also works with other grower-partners. Aside from the groves the company owns that are already in production, they have stagger-planted each year with an eye on the future.
“We will grow exponentially by the year as more and more groves come into production,” Bishop said. “Meanwhile, we’ve also managed to forge expanded partnerships with some of our large, independent growers that will also increase volume.”
Lone Star Citrus is now fully PTI-compliant with item-level traceability via print-and-apply PLU labels with the company’s unique GTIN information.
Last year, Lone Star opened its facilities to outside cross-docking and cold storage and that business has grown as well.
“We are doing some off-season cold storage with one partner and it’s actually going to feed into a year-round program,” Bishop said. “That should lead to the potential of us being an attractive consolidation pick-up point for our mutual customers to load in one spot. We have plenty of room to take on more cross-docking and cold storage business.”
The reinvestment and continued growth are all part of Lone Star’s plan to add value to the citrus category.
“We are growers of arguably some of the best-tasting citrus in the world. We are very proud of that. We are also proud of the grower-partners we represent,” Bishop said. “When we opened the door seven years ago, we took very seriously our role of contributing to the growth and consumption of Texas citrus. By remaining engaged in all aspects of the industry, and providing a viable supply solution for our customers to count on, I would like to think we are doing our part.”