US growers enjoy successful season of KIKU apple variety

U.S. KIKU growers, in the final 6-8 weeks of selling the 2017 crop, are looking back on a successful season while setting out plans for the first KIKU imports from the Southern Hemisphere.

According to George Harter of CMI Orchards, the 2017 KIKU brand apple season was very successful despite a smaller overall harvest. “Between CMI and our partners Rice Fruit Company in Pennsylvania and Applewood Orchards in Michigan, we had less volume to sell, which proved to be a challenge in planning promotions," said Harter. “However, this helped drive demand as consumers were hungry to find them on the shelf.”

Even with the volume reduction, Harter says that the Nielsen national scan data underscores the success of the strategy this year. The data reveals that the top 15 KIKU retail chains nationally increased sales by 124% with volume up over 100%.

“The top 15 KIKU retailer banners in the U.S. more than doubled their volume for the season,” said Harter. “More importantly, they increased their volume while sustaining higher average retail prices. In a year where most retailers are experiencing significant category price deflation, having an apple brand like KIKU drive sales and higher retail prices has been a huge win.”

Harter says the U.S. KIKU growers will probably be completely sold out by mid May, well ahead of last year.

With supplies of domestically grown KIKU apples winding down, the focus is now shifting to imports from Chile and New Zealand. Robb Myers, Import Manager for CMI Orchards, says the company is setting plans now for the import season beginning June 1. 

“We’re expecting a strong import season on KIKU from our growers in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Myers. "The import season will kick off in early June with supplies available through September," he added.

According to Myers, KIKU sizing from the Southern Hemisphere is reported to be excellent. “Having large-size apples available this summer should really help retailers that have been struggling to maintain category volume due to the smaller size structure of the Washington crop,” he said. “We think KIKU will be positioned very well to drive incremental dollars for retailers.”

Myers said retailers are already placing orders in anticipation of the first of the import arrivals on June 1. “The lead time for imports is a little longer than for domestic product, so it’s important that retailers are out in front with their sales planning to ensure we have KIKU set aside to cover them through the season.”

KIKU brand apples come from select growers in strategic regions across the United States, and from CMI Orchards from their Southern Hemisphere partners. One of the owners of CMI Orchards (Columbia Fruit Packers) was granted the exclusive opportunity to develop the North American market for KIKU brand apples. CMI Orchards grows the apples in Washington State and has formed an alliance with Applewood Orchards, Inc. in Michigan and Rice Fruit Company in Pennsylvania to provide retailers with a regional program for KIKU brand apples grown in Michigan and Pennsylvania. 
For more information:
Linda McFarland
CMI Orchards 
+1 (509) 888-3418

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