A trademarked New Zealand-developed apple is set to surpass the 100,000 carton mark for production in the U.S. state of Washington for the first time this season, which is just a fraction of what those involved are aiming for within six years.
Enza's Envy apples were first brought to North America by Vancouver-based Oppy in 2009, and three years later the company harvested small commercial volumes for the market from New Zealand, Chile and Washington itself.
In a release, Oppy said that along with Enza it was preparing for an anticipated two million cartons of the fruit to be grown in the state by 2020.
"We’re in the midst of extensive consumer research into attitudes and purchasing behavior surrounding premium apples," said Oppy apple and pear category director David Nelley.
"We’re seeking key learnings that will enable us to design campaigns based on sound research. The goal is to sustain Envy’s return to the grower and sales velocity at retail as its volume grows."
He said a faithful following and meaningful conversations had been part of Envy's character since the beginning of the venture.
"Even while distribution has been limited by our modest volumes, people constantly comment on the intense flavor of the apple and want to know where they can find it.
"If an apple is your go-to snack of the day, you want to make it really tasty. What is really telling, however, is that Envy is the favorite apple of several retail buyers."
He added that pricing was several dollars higher year-on-year per box even though volume had risen, performing "beautifully" in a range of retail channels.
The fruit has also been in high demand for exports to Asia.
"Envy was bred specifically with the attributes of sweetness, intense flavor and crispness. As luck has it, it wants to grow large, red and is very slow to brown when sliced. This variety has a lot of good things going for it."
The trademarked Pacific Rose apple has been another export darling for Enza, with its large, pink appearance and crisp-sweet flavor attracting high order rates from overseas in the lead up to Chinese New Year. Nelley said it had been successfully re-established with domestic retail, while organic Pacific Rose apples were already sold out for the season.
He added that the Washington trademarked Jazz apple crop had smaller sizes this season but demand was strong.
"The year’s crop is predominantly smaller-sized apples. This gave us the opportunity to bring our two-pound ‘pouch’ bags to the forefront of our marketing efforts. It’s a vehicle that worked very well for our cherry program, so we are translating ‘grab and go’ success to apples," Nelley said.
Oppy, which is partly owned by European business Total Produce, is actively planning for the New Zealand season, which starts in May.
"While there was a little hail in Hawke’s Bay before Christmas, the subsequent weather pattern in the growing regions is helping to tee up an excellent fresh crop," Nelley said.
"We were able to translate a very strong 2013 New Zealand JAZZ season, which is predominantly large-sizing, into a solid Washington campaign. We are now setting up the transition into fresh crop in May, as JAZZ is now among the top 10 preferred apples at retail and continues to grow in gross sales."