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Opal returns with new promotions, charity initiative

FirstFruits Marketing, the Yakima, WA-based marketer of the widely acclaimed Opal apple, has launched its 2013 campaign with a new website, in-store point-of-sales efforts and the announcement of a new charity initiative.

In an effort to create greater brand awareness, FirstFruits has produced new in-store POS, including signage, new merchandisers and cartons that show off Opal's modern and vibrant logo. Opal-MerchandiserConsumer events and demos have been planned for select cities and retailers across the United States.

In addition, its new website, www.opalapples.com, was slated to launch Jan. 21 and will feature information on the apple, retail availability and information on the apple's new giving-back initiative.

FirstFruits announced its call for applications from nonprofit organizations to benefit from 2013 Opal sales as part of the Youth Make a Difference Initiative, a campaign designed to provide financial support to worthy charities led by youth ages 6 to 25.

Opal, the Washington-grown apple that funded the expansion of Katie's Krops gardens across the country in 2012, was first introduced in 2010. It quickly gained favor with consumers for its bright yellow color with hints of orange, distinctively crunchy texture, and sweet, tangy flavor.

Unlike other apples, Opal resists oxidation. It is less likely to brown after slicing, making it a snack-time favorite among moms and kids. In fact, retailers sell out of the apple every year.

"Opal apples have been so popular it's hard for our stores to keep them in stock," Kevin Hurley, manager of produce and floral merchandising at Sweetbay Supermarket, said in a press release. "The taste, texture and color of the apple have made it an immediate favorite. And once our customers understand that not only are they purchasing a great product but supporting a worthy cause, the apple sells itself."

Like last year, FirstFruits will harness consumer demand for Opal in 2013 to raise funds for Katie's Krops as well as other youth-led initiatives that address issues in food security, nutrition, agriculture, food politics or food education. Non-profit organizations and school-based entities can apply for funding, totaling approximately $50,000, at opalapples.com from Feb. 1 until March 31.

FirstFruits will evaluate all 2013 Youth Make a Difference applicants against a stringent set of criteria before posting finalists at opalapples.com.

Beginning April 29, the company will invite consumers to visit the website and vote for their favorite initiatives.

In July, FirstFruits plans to award funding to a minimum of three youth-led charities based on consumer votes and consistency with criteria. Criteria, nomination guidelines and funding details are available online.