Apple season looking 'vintage' for Domex
by Lora Abcarian | January 03, 2011
Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh
Growers in Yakima, WA, couldn't be more pleased with the 2010-11 apple
season. "This is a vintage year for eating a good apple," he told The Produce
Mr. Queen said that apple volume for the 2010-11 crop increased
approximately 15 percent when compared to last season. “New growers are
coming on board,” he stated. “New blocks are coming into production.”
He went on to say that an average orchard’s production life is 25 years. “We’re
always cycling through orchards.” Growers replace old blocks with high-
density plantings, and grafting improves apple production.
A full manifest of conventional and organic apples is moved into the pipeline
each year. This season, organic product accounts for approximately 10
percent of overall volume. Mr. Queen expects the organic volume will
continue to bump up in the coming years to meet demand in the marketplace.
This is the time of year when Domex Superfresh Growers likes to feature
Braeburns, the company’s sixth-largest variety by volume.
When asked how weather affected this year’s crop, Mr. Queen said, “Weather
played an interesting role this year.” Washington is known for its micro-
climates, and the production season only reinforced how changeable things
can be. “Conditions varied from block to block,” he said about the orchards.
And the state is two inches ahead of normal rainfall.
While cooler spring weather kept the fruit from sizing along normal
timetables, Mr. Queen said, “Sugars are great. Colors are great.” With the
exception of Red Delicious and Gala, apples sized well by harvest.
Domex Superfresh Growers markets apples globally to retailers and
wholesalers. Mr. Queen said that smaller apple sizes are a perfect fit for
export markets. This is particularly true for Red Delicious, which has been
favorably received in Asian markets because of the cultural significance of the
The company places heavy emphasis on category management and works with
its customers to improve sales. “Category management is one of our strong
suits,” he stated. “This will be critical moving forward with a bumpy
One strategy is to encourage retailers to promote alternate items so
consumers won’t trade down their apple purchases.
Mr. Queen said that 2011 will present ample opportunities for bag sales. “We
have a two-pound Superfresh Kids promotion,” he said. This program gets a
healthy snack into children’s smaller-sized hands. Additionally, three-, five-
and eight-pound bags provide consumers with good values in the produce
department. “There’s plenty of fruit for those this year,” he went on to say.
“There’s a nice spread in the industry in terms of grade.”
When asked about the biggest trend he sees in the marketplace, Mr. Queen
said, “It’s the rise of the smart phone.” The company has used social
networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But he said smart phone
applications are pushing the communications frontier. Consumers are
increasingly using their smart phones to access QR codes and get additional
product information. “I see that as a real advantage moving forward,” he said
of the future. “Tying everything together really increases sales.”