MANATEE — Pink grapefruit made its worldwide debut in 1913 as a mutant in groves in Palmetto and Oneco.
In the following 96 years, it traveled to markets worldwide, and now a deal has been struck to sell it in 220 Waitrose stores in and around London.
The Florida Department of Agriculture announced this week that Florida pink grapefruit would be sold under signs that read “Taste the Warmth of Florida Sunshine.”
Authorities say promotions with the chain have generated an additional $6 million in farm gate receipts for Florida growers. State agriculture officials estimate each $1 million in gate receipts creates 34 full-time jobs and $130,000 in indirect tax revenue.
It’s part of the “Fresh from Florida” campaign, which features more than two dozen Florida products sold worldwide.
Most of Florida’s grapefruit is grown on the East Coast of Florida, in the state’s Indian River region, and it wasn’t immediately known if Manatee County growers would take part in the campaign.
Neither Andrew Meadows of Florida Citrus Mutual or Terry McElroy of the Florida Department of Agriculture could answer that question.
But what is known is that pink grapefruit appeared for the first time at the former Thompson Groves, located near the intersection of U.S. 301 and State Road 70.
Simultaneously, it was found at the site of Atwood Grapefruit Grove near Palmetto, according to Herald archives.
Reasoner’s Royal Palm Nursery propagated and sold Thompson Pink Seedless grapefruit from a branch of the mutant tree found in Oneco, the Herald quoted Ward Reasoner as saying in 2004.
A historic marker at the Oneco site honoring the birthplace of the pink grapefruit disappeared in 2007.