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Ontario apple crop down slightly but sizing is up

Ontario’s apple crop volume is down slightly this year, according to a news release dated September 13, from Ontario Apple Growers Association however “the fruit will be larger, juicier, and more colorful.” The good news is however, according to Peter Katona of Martin’s Family Fruit Farm is that all of the rain over the summer has sizing up. “We have more fruit available in larger sizes but in terms of overall numbers we’re still trying to get trying to get a handle on how much.”

Early varieties done
They’ve finished the early varieties (Gingergold, Paulareds) and are currently into several varieties: Gala, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, also Cortland, Empires and Spartans are underway. “We’ll be getting into Ambrosia which is really picking up momentum here in Ontario,” he says, shipping will begin the second week of October. Then Red Delicious will follow in mid October along with Golden Delicious. 

New varieties for Canada like the crimson crisp
Overall acreage is between 700-750. New orchard is replacing old, and Katona says there’s a big focus on Gala, Ambrosia and Honeycrisp, rather than getting into any club varieties. “People who participate in those are getting involved in a marketing program and there are costs associated with that, but we’re dabbling with a few new ones like crimson crisp.” –which is not a club variety. Only small amounts are currently available. “It’s really a beautiful apple and it eats well. We’re aware of the new varieties in the US but in Canada there’s a lot of room for the ambrosia. It’s not considered a club variety here.”

Export to resort areas 
Export destination varies from year to year, though he says recent export countries include Cuba and Costa Rica, as well as for the past six years varying amounts of apples have been sent to India. “Most of these markets are for smaller fruit. It all comes down to dollars and cents and where the exchange rates are but we like to keep a lot of doors open and recognize that there are growing markets around the world.” He notes also, that it’s a safe, reliable outlet for their smaller fruit and the apples in Cuba are served at resorts frequented by Canadians. “Ironically our apples will still probably be eaten by people from Ontario.” 

Making use of apples in processing for snack market
Delving into the processing side has also made use of fruit, sold as dehydrated apple chips. With Millennials eating fewer meals but snacking more, Katona says “everyone’s scrambling for a piece of the snack pie. It’s a tremendous opportunity for us because we have a very wholesome natural product in our crispy apple chips. It fits very well with millennials consumption patterns and healthy snacking.” Within the snack category, it’s the comfort of a crunch Katona says is what sells. “We’re offering the crunch of a potato chip. For many people, like myself, it’s good to have that crispy crunch rather than a chewy piece of dried fruit.” The apple chips are available across Canada at Costco, Starbucks, Sobeys regionally, smaller non-traditional grocers like Bulk Barn, and also TJX (Winner’s, Homesense, and Marshalls).
For more information:
Peter Katona
Martin’s Family Fruit Farm
Ph: 519-664-2750

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