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Extended season for Washington's organic apples

With a rise in production volume and a later-than-normal harvest start last fall, Washington’s organic apples are enjoying an extended season. Organic fruit with high starch reserves at harvest is kept in controlled atmosphere storage to extend the season of great-quality organic apples. 

Wide organic range; smaller, kid-sized fruit
This year, Stemilt will be offering several organic varieties, including Honeycrisp, Piñata®, and Gala, Fuji, and Granny Smith, into the mid-summer. Stemilt Growers communications manager Brianna Shales explained that a trend of smaller crop sizing has also proven to be a good thing for Stemilt’s Lil Snappers program. “It’s been a good year for this brand because it’s centered around kid-sized fruit,” she explains. The bag is offered in a 3lb size for both conventional and organic. Three pounds is a good package size on organic because Shales notes millennial moms are buying the kid-sized fruit and want it to last for a week’s worth of lunches or kid snacks. 

Staple category at retail
The organic category has become a major staple in the grocery store, says Shales and Stemilt is able to meet the demand with supplying its Artisan Organics apples to primarily North American customers longer than they have in the past. “They want to have those offerings throughout the year,” she says, though not every variety needs to be made available but carrying a select few also allows for promotions in the spring and early summer. “We’re seeing organic take a bigger share of the apple pie in data. If we look at composite data from Nielsen in the US we’re seeing organic have a bigger volume share and that falls in line with increased supplies. For retailers that’s good news because organics are still selling for a premium over conventional.”

New Honeyhill apple
Stemilt recently unveiled a new program and packaging for high-quality Honeycrisp apples: Honeyhill. The brand features the Royal Honeycrisp strain, which does extremely well in storage. In its initial launch year, Honeyhill will help retailers share Honeycrisp apples with shoppers until the mid-summer, longer than in the past.

Summer fruit is just starting to bloom and Stemilt expects its cherry season to kick off in May. California cherry orchards are just starting to bloom and Shales says full bloom will come in the next two weeks. “It’s too early to predict crop size and quality in California, but we are readying and excited to get another cherry season underway at Stemilt.”

For more information:
Brianna Shales
Ph: 509-663-1451

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