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Pink Lady coming into peak season in US

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2019-03-14  Views: 3
Core Tip: As the Northern Hemisphere enters spring, Washington apple growers are continuing to move good volume through the US market.
As the Northern Hemisphere enters spring, Washington apple growers are continuing to move good volume through the US market. Supplies are good on all major varieties including Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji. Scott Marboe of Starr Ranch Growers, said that Pink Lady is entering peak season now. "Pink Lady apples are starting to move well now. This is the time of year they start to be promoted at retail and the condition and flavor is excellent."

The market is steady but growers say it could be better. Adding to the headwinds are the overseas markets, with fruit from South America providing competition and Asia presenting more of a challenge for US exporters this year. "The market can always pick up," Marboe noted. "This is a transitional time and as offshore stone fruit moves in we are seeing the transition at retail. The tariffs imposed by China have not helped, that’s for sure, and we are all dealing with it. India however, is still taking product and consumers are happy with it."

Consumer becoming more aware of Juici apple
One of Starr Ranch Growers' proprietary varieties is the Juici apple. Juici was introduced a few years ago by the Washington company who has been busy spreading awareness of the apple across the US. The apple is described as being dense and holding its crunch well at room temperature and consumers are becoming more familiar with it. According to Marboe, this is the key to success in a market filled with new and unique apple varieties.

"The density of the apple and the unique flavor are the biggest selling points," he explained. "We are getting lots of consumer feedback, letters and notes from consumers around the country and it’s starting to gain traction. It’s been a fun but challenging introduction to the category. There are so many varieties available now that singling out one variety over the other and grabbing consumers attention is key. It’s really doing well in a number of areas around the country. The Midwest is really gaining traction, Canada loves it and the Southwest is a new surprise for us this year. As we continue to see the volume increase it will continue to gain a foothold in North America as well as overseas."

Koru from New Zealand available soon
Another of the company's feature apples is Koru. Originally bred in New Zealand, Koru has been growing in Washington state for the past six years. The apple is a cross between a Fuji and a Braeburn and is considered a larger variety than other apples. Washington state does grow its own, but imports from New Zealand are due to begin shortly, along with Honeycrisp.

"The Koru and our organic as well as conventional Honeycrisp from New Zealand are heading this way and will be here soon," Marboe shared. "We invested in New Zealand Honeycrisp years ago and that program has a loyal following. The fruit is fantastic and it’s always in high demand."

To cap off a busy season for Starr Ranch Growers, the company is reporting an uptick in requests for their organic pouch bags, which it says use a third less plastic and are made with recyclable materials. "Yesterday I was in a store in Arizona and watched four shoppers pick up the bag," Marboe said. "I always like to get customer feedback and three of them said they bought it because of the fact it was a more sustainable package, which to me is what we were after. Our Director of Organics Dan Davis found a great product for us. In fact, a major retailer has picked this bag up exclusively for their private label."
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