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The harvest of the KORU® brand apple is underway in New Zealand, with volumes expected to reach between 130-150,000 cartons. This is still a relatively small volume as the variety has only been in commercial production for around 4 years. The first container of this season bound for the USA, will sail on Saturday.
Andy McGrath, who owns the world rights to the KORU® is developing the production of it throughout the world. Plans for growing in Canada and Australia are well underway and there are discussions with growers in Switzerland, the UK, Europe and South Africa.
"In New Zealand volumes are increasing steadily in a very planned manner," he explains. "We produced 88,000 cartons last year and should have between 130-150,000 cartons this year. The US production is still limited with just 4-5,000 cartons this year but by 2020 we should be at half million and climbing quickly. Predictions for the New Zealand production are 280,000-300,000 cartons by 2020. Production growth will continue well beyond 2020 which will be when we expect year round supply in the USA.”
Currently 85% of the New Zealand harvest goes to the US, "We have very good marketing channels set up there and the prices work for us. The KORU® has a big market reach in the US, all of the major retailers stock the apple, it is in all states except Alaska," according to Andy. “ According to data from Nielson it saw a 230% increase in retail sales in dollar growth and 202% volume growth.”
Andy says that it's the consumer delivery of this apple which is exceptional, "It has great flavour with depth to it. It's not just acidic or just sweet, it has great crispness and brix and a lot of complexity which is really unusual. The response on our Facebook page has been fantastic, people are so enthusiastic about KORU®."
The KORU® apple was discovered as a chance seedling by Geoff Plunkett in his garden in Upper Moutere, Nelson in 1998. Geoff and his wife, Marilyn, have figured out that the plant grew from a decaying apple that was tossed into their garden bed by his mother-in-law. Geoff's curiosity gave the tree a chance to produce fruit and being an experienced commercial grower himself, he was impressed with the quality of apples it produced.
Geoff knew that the discarded apple was Fuji, therefore the female parent is Fuji. DNA testing has indicated that the other parent is Braeburn. This result is also substantiated by the block layout from where the discarded apples were picked.
After several years of testing on blocks throughout New Zealand, the apple which Geoff originally referred to as 'Kotabaru' meaning "new beginnings' in aboriginal, the apple now has a denomination of Plumac and the fruit is being marketed using the registered brand KORU® and is receiving worldwide attention.
The word 'Koru' is a Maori word for the new unfurling fern frond as it unfolds to create a new leaf. The design is an important symbol in both Maori and New Zealand culture symbolizing new life, regeneration, growth, strength and peace.
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