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KIKU® apple growers excited to launch 2017 season

With a strong harvest now completed, KIKU® brand apples are poised for retail growth. KIKU® growers in Washington, Michigan and Pennsylvania are reporting they expect a strong year ahead.

“We’re ready to grow retail sales of KIKU®,” said George Harter, Vice President of Marketing for CMI Orchards. Based on a solid harvest, Harter says CMI is projecting a jump in KIKU® volume of 49% for the coming year.

“We’re excited about a big increase because we know KIKU® is one of a small handful of branded apples that have a strong following with consumers,” said Harter. “When you look at the popularity of KIKU®, it’s clear this apple has made a mark with consumers.”

Harter reports Nielsen scan data results show that KIKU® was the 6th bestselling branded apple in the category, dropping from #5 the previous year. “The short crop last year slowed us down just as we were starting to leverage growing KIKU® demand by consumers. Well, KIKU® is back and we’re ready to get retail promotions going with our customers.”

Field tests for soluble solids (sugar) conducted by growers show that KIKU® is among the sweetest apples grown in the industry. Gala typically Brix around 13%, Honeycrisp at about 14% and Fuji around 15%. KIKU® typically achieve 17% Brix and often higher, revealing a super-sweet flavor that brings customers back.

In Pennsylvania, KIKU® brand apples are grown under license by Rice Fruit Company. According to Brenda Briggs, Vice President of Marketing for Rice Fruit, the organization expects a solid KIKU® crop despite losing some production to a late summer hail storm.

“We’re up from last year on KIKU®,” says Briggs. “The good news we’re hearing from our horticultural team is that our KIKU® again have exceptionally sweet flavor. For weeks we have been getting emails from consumers eager to get their first of the season KIKU®, so we’re excited to get started. The enthusiasm we hear back from retailers really makes selling KIKU® fun.”

In the Midwest, KIKU® grower Applewood Orchards, Inc. is also reporting an excellent crop. Scott Swindeman, Vice President of Applewood Orchards says KIKU® from his Michigan orchards are among the best he has produced.

“We really have a nice KIKU® crop this year,” said Swindeman. The flavor and color are outstanding with a good range of sizes, so we’re prepared to meet the needs of all of our retail partners.”

Harter added that a key to the rapid growth and popularity of KIKU® is there are three strong growers across in the U.S. as well as a large import program from New Zealand during the summer months. “KIKU® has essentially become a year-round branded apple performer for a number of retailers. Last year more than 12,500 supermarkets sold KIKU® with great success. With a bigger crop we’re excited about the opportunity to get this fantastic apple in the hands of a lot more consumers.”

Linda McFarland 
CMI Orchards

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