“In terms of our crop, we look extremely good this year,” Lee Peters, vice president of sales and marketing for Fowler Brothers, Inc., in Wolcott, NY, told The Produce News in mid-December. “We plant more trees and have more production every year. This year our supplies are in good shape and we expect to be shipping into mid-summer. That’s also when we’ll be starting with our new crop for both apples and cider.”
Apple cider has become a major product for Fowler Brothers over the years, and while it’s popular year-round, it enjoys especially strong demand during the holiday seasons. Its cider is made from a premium blend of seven varieties of fresh apples using no concentrate. The flavor profile is maintained throughout the year by managing the mix of the varieties.
“Our cider is known for its smooth, no bite flavor,” said Peters. “Our specialty ciders; Honeycrisp, SweeTango and Fuji — are each made from the individual variety with no other blends involved. These unique flavors are widely acknowledged as the best.”
The company’s cider season runs until the apples are out of stock and the next crop is ready — and always anxiously awaited by consumers.
“We have a new cider label this year that we are very proud of,” Peters added. “Fowler Farms’ cider can be found in just about every state east of the Rocky Mountains.”
Fowler Brothers is reporting very favorable storage situations for its stored apples this year, with no foreseeable problems. Fowler also noted that most growers across the state of New York are reporting about the same good supplies and quality this year.
Fowler Brothers has been passionate about growing quality apples since its founding in 1858. Its family tradition of excellence now spans six generations. The farm, just south of Lake Ontario, NY, provides an ideal climate for growing crisp, juicy, locally grown apples for its customers.
“Fowler Farms is still family owned and we control every stage of the growing process, from root stock through final consumer packaging,” said Peters. “We’ve made it a high priority to make our produce buyers’ jobs as easy as possible, and our reputation for excellence and innovation has made us the apple grower of choice by many.”
He added that he does not anticipate any weakness in pricing for the rest of this season.
“We hear that Washington State is reporting a reduced crop this year, and their exports are higher. This results in a lower amount of their fruit coming to the east. They are being very aggressive to be sure that the apples are moved before any potential storage issues can surface, so they want to move them as soon as possible.”
Peters said that he wished that when he was four years old that his grandfather had told him that the Honeycrisp apple would turn out to be so phenomenal today.
“This buildup of demand has been going on for several years, and we don’t see that demand for the apple slowing down any time soon,” he said. “We’re planting more and more every year, and while we have a balanced planting of all of our varieties, this apple is definitely increasing. We feel it’s already taken over the Red Delicious, which has been the number one selling apple in the U.S. for many years. I’m not talking on a national sales’ level, but certainly among our customers. We also think that the Gala will also overcome the Red Delicious in the future because of the increase in demand.”
In addition to those mentioned, Fowler Farms also produces Cortlands, Crispins, Empires, Fortunes, Fujis, Ida Reds, Jonagolds, McCullen, McIntosh, Red Delicious, Rome and other varieties.
Peters said that consumers are demanding more apples in general than ever today.
“As the apple industry continues to improve its storage abilities, consumers get better eating apples,” he said. “As the apples taste better, the more they are demanded. There are many good things going on for apples today, including the strong focus on the health benefits that the U.S. Apple Association and others are doing a great job of educating consumers about.”