New Zealand growers invest in sweet premium apple
New Zealand growers in South Canterbury are planting up to 500,000 new trees of the Honeycrisp apple, which has proved an export hit in the U.S. commanding significantly higher prices than other varieties.
Honeycrisp New Zealand co-director Peter Bennett, said the new plantings at MA Orchards included 19 hectares at Kerrytown and 16 hectares at Seadown.
He said the bi-color apple was extremely popular abroad and estimated that in the next three years shipments could reach 100,000 (18 kilogram) cartons a year.
"It's a very strong market in the Northern Hemisphere, not just in the U.S. but also Europe and it also has potential in Asia," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"It's sweet and crisp and it doesn't go brown, it stays white and crisp so it's very good for fresh fruit salads."
He said the cultivar fetched good U.S. supermarket prices of US$3.99-4.49 per pound compared with US$3 per pound for other varieties.
It's expected the new plantings will generate 200 new packing and picking jobs next year. Bennett said that South Canterbury's cool climate was ideal for growing the apple.
Currently, 95% of the cultivar is grown in South Canterbury with 30 hectares of the apple grown at Bennett's Waipopo Orchards and another 10 hectares at Makikki.
Honeycrisp New Zealand was licensed to grow the apple by the cultivar's developer, the University of Minnesota. This year was New Zealand's first year of exporting the apple to the U.S.