U.S.: Washington apple sees bright future with fresh branding strategy
Washington-based Proprietary Variety Management (PVM) has launched a new marketing strategy for the WA 2 apply variety in partnership with Washington State University (WSU), branding the selection Sunrise Magic.
In conversation with www.freshfruitportal.com, PVM president Lynnell Brandt said the Sunrise Magic was a cross between the Splendour and Gala selections.
"It was crossed by Dr. Bruce Barrett from Washington State University who is now retired, and that program is now shepherded by Dr. Kate Evans," said Brandt.
WA 2 was bred in 1994 at WSU and was not released to growers until 2009, so it took 15 years from breeding to release.
"[When the apple] was released in 2009 it did not have a good commercialization plan at that time. It's now being fostered by PVM which is working on behalf of WSA, and it has now been named through the use of consumer focus groups," he said.
Brandt said the taste of the apple was so unique that he could not compare it to an existing variety.
"I don’t know that I can compare it to another apple. It is quite sweet and mildly acidic, it has very long storage and shelf life, it is very firm and [has] a nice refreshing mellow taste. It's a very attractive apple, hence the name sunrise.
"People thought of sunrise as something to start the day out right, and so I think it's going to have good appeal."
Brandt said the apple was harvested slightly later in the season just after Red Delicious, so it was a mid to later-season harvest.
"We have not noticed any harvesting difficulties. So far we've not found any shortcomings. We don't have large commercial plantings out yet so there's a learning curve for all of us, but right now it looks extremely promising.
"The apple has been released in very, very limited amounts. There will be more plantings going in very shortly, so I think that will be increasing over the next few years substantially."
The company will first aim to address business in the domestic market to ensure they have acquired notoriety and recognition points to give them a good base.
"Given its extremely long keeping ability we'll also be looking at every market that we can access.
"The first products, the first materials, for both Sunrise Magic and for Cosmic Crisp, for North America, will have limited plantings to Washington State only.
"We will be developing it internationally though within the different territories through a global marketing plan," he said.
Brandt said the Sunrise Magic was already down in Chile, but just through quarantines, so it was still at a very infant stage.
New marketing strategy
Brandt explained that the consumer focus groups came up with the name Sunrise, and then Magic was used to make sure it would be able to be accepted by the trademark office.
“This is the same strategy that's being used for Cosmic Crisp, which is WA 38, which is another Washington State University release," he said.
"PVM has some very structured marketing strategies that include much more consumer participation. After all, they are the end customer.
"We have a large infrastructure, both international and domestic here, that we will be employing to assist us as we move forward to make sure that the consumer involvement is there every step of the way," he said.
Brandt said PVM was looking forward to developing this apple on behalf of the Washington State industry but also in a global nature to try to bring the best value to all stakeholders that were involved, including the consumers.