Slow start for NZ apples in the U.S.

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Slow start for NZ apples in the U.S.

A U.S. apple distributor says a smaller New Zealand crop this year has led to lower volumes, while sizes have also been lower year-on-year for Chilean fruit.

Giumarra Wenatchee sales manager Jason Bushong told the shortage had led to better prices for remaining U.S. apples and the Chilean deal.

"For our market in the U.S. of course we like the larger sizes -we obviously don’t have much in the States yet but the pre-clearance numbers to the U.S. I think are one of the lowest ever from New Zealand so we’re greatly affected by it," he said.

"Quite frankly the currency is a big issue too.  The U.S. dollar isn’t trading well against the New Zealand dollar and that's a fact of life.

"Chilean apples are faring better in fruit size compared to New Zealand, but in general they are smaller fruit sizes than last year as well."

He says the supply situation has been difficult, but customers have shown flexibility.

"They understand that what mother nature deals you, you have to deal with in the market as well."

Bushong says there is good demand for many new varieties coming out of New Zealand, while the company will be trialing the Smitten and Lemonade varieties in limited volumes.

Smitten is a high-brix breed of the Gala, Braeburn, Falstaff and Fiesta varieties, which is described as sweet and juicy with a pleasantly firm texture. Lemonade apples are yellow and slightly tart, with an effervescent flavor.

Giumarra is sourcing its New Zealand apples from Yummy Fruit, Mr. Apple and Energie, and plans to supply customers with high  volumes Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, New Zealand Rose, Pink Lady and Royal Gala apples.

"There are many varieties from New Zealand of course - some that we handle, some that others handle - Smitten, Temptation, Lemonade, and of course the Enza varieties like Jazz and Envy, and they all seem to have a place at this point just because of the spectacle that they’re new.

"I think time will tell which ones will go into the market as acceptable and which ones won’t.

"Consumers will continue to purchase traditional varieties, but retailers can help boost the apple category by also offering special varieties with sampling and targeted merchandising."

Related story: Smaller apples a challenge for NZ growers this year

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