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Jazz marketing partnership reflects growth

by | November 28, 2010
With record-breaking volumes of Jazz apples coming off the trees this season, Enza and Oppenheimer are sharing the abundance.

Washington Jazz volume is forecasted to grow over 30 percent in a single year, prompting the variety's owner, Enza, to invite Rainier Fruit Co. in Selah, WA, into a sub-agency marketing arrangement with Vancouver, BC-based The Oppenheimer Group.

"Rainier and Oppenheimer will collaboratively present Washington Jazz apples to the North American customer base," David Nelley, Oppenheimer’s apple and pear category director, said in a Nov. 23 press release. “The same range of fruit sizes and pack styles are available from either group,”

Rainier’s vice president of sales and marketing, Randy Abhold, expressed enthusiasm in the release about the venture, pointing to the apple’s impressive track record in recent years. “We at Rainier Fruit Co. are very flattered and excited to be asked to participate in the sales and marketing of the Jazz apple with Oppenheimer. We have watched its growth and heard from our customers about how well this apple has been received by the consumer, and we believe this collaboration will further its growth in the category.”

Mr. Nelley concurred that the popularity of the Jazz apple is on the rise domestically as well as globally, so the uptick in volume is welcome.

“Export demand at this time of year is fivefold what it was in 2009,” he said in the release. “We’re excited about the international opportunities, as well as the enthusiasm we see closer to home. After a relatively short time on the market, Jazz has risen to a top-10 variety with many North American retailers. Various marketing tactics, from branded sampling events to social media outreach are making a difference, but in the end, the crunch and flavor of Jazz have driven the growth.”

Mr. Nelley noted in the release that it makes sense at this point to streamline logistics with Rainer, “which will help the market absorb this year’s large increase in Washington Jazz volume.” He pointed out that the two companies have a solid track record of operational collaboration.

The fruit began shipping in volume Nov. 1, and in addition to a larger supply, larger-than-usual sizes are anticipated.

“It was an unusually cold and damp bloom period for Washington apple growers,” Mr. Nelley said in the release. “But in the damper, almost New Zealand-like conditions, the Jazz has thrived size-wise, with many orchards reporting increased fruit size. The Jazz had an early bloom, and we were lucky to have a small window of several fine days, which really helped. We’re anticipating even better-tasting fruit as the Jazz trees in Washington mature and produce an even more-consistent flavor over the crop.”

Jazz trees naturally produce plentiful 88s through 113s, creating opportunities for multiple SKUs, according to Mr. Nelley. “We are bringing back the three- and four-pound 'Snacker’ packs of kids-sized apples in mesh and poly bags, as well as loose,” he said in the release. “This concept enables our customers to give their shoppers more Jazz options.”

Washington-grown Enza Pacific Rose and Envy apples — as well as all New Zealand Enza varieties, including Jazz — will continue to be available from Oppenheimer exclusively, while Rainier will ship its full range of Washington varieties including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Cameo, Jonagold, Lady Alice, Junami and Honeycrisp.