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Envy apples reach volume milestone

The latest apple from Enza has a following any new fruit would Envy. The aptly named apple will surpass the 100,000-carton mark out of Washington this season for the first time ever, as growers endeavor to feed the demand that continues to outpace supply.

Trial volumes of Envy apples from New Zealand were introduced in North America by The Oppenheimer Group in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2012 that Enza harvested the first small commercial volumes in Washington state. Envy2lbUS-front lrgGrown for this market in New Zealand, Chile and Washington, consumers will soon have access to bright red, sweet, crisp Envy year-round. Meanwhile, Enza and Oppy are preparing for the anticipated 2 million cartons that will be harvested in Washington by 2020 by laying some important groundwork now.

“We’re in the midst of extensive consumer research into attitudes and purchasing behavior surrounding premium apples,” said David Nelley, apple and pear category director for The Oppenheimer Group. “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.”

Indicators thus far are promising. “Faithful following and meaningful conversations over social media have been part of Envy’s character since the beginning. 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,” Nelley said. “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 noted that pricing is several dollars per box ahead of last year despite the uptick in volume, and the apple is performing beautifully in a range of channels, from club, to large-format national retail, to gourmet niche. Envy is also 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,” Nelley said.

Another export sweetheart for Enza and Oppy during the Washington season is Pacific Rose. The large, pink, crisp-sweet apple is currently shipping overseas at high rates to meet Chinese New Year orders. However, in the last few seasons it has also been successfully re-established with domestic retail, Nelley said. Organic Pacific Rose is already sold out for the season.

Rounding out the Enza threesome from Washington is JAZZ, which is also enjoying excellent demand, particularly for size 100 and larger fruit, according to Nelley,

“The year’s crop is predominantly smaller-sized apples,” he said. “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.”

While continuing to strategically market the domestic program, Oppy, the exclusive marketer of imported JAZZ apples, is actively planning for the New Zealand season, which begins 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.”