Sales of Kanzi apples in Australia has continued to grow at a significant rate, according to growers, with the 2019 harvesting season well underway.
Now in the third week of marketing for 2019, manager of the Kanzi apple brand in Australia, Desmond Muir says the variety is proving very popular among consumers.
"Demand is driven by the look, the flavour, the taste and crunch - it's a good experience for consumers," he said. "If a person gets a good experience eating an apple, they will go back and buy it again. If they have a bad experience, they just don't buy it again. Kanzi delivers that experience. There is a lot of varieties (on the market), and fortunately Kanzi stands out head and shoulders above the rest."
He puts the growth in volumes down to younger trees coming into production, with 600,000 trees in the ground and 150,000 set to be planted. At the moment demand is outweighing supply.
"We will have five million kilograms of Kanzi this year," Mr Muir said. "I have just visited a retail outlet where I live in Mandurah, and he is selling four boxes a day, which is a lot of apples for a single shop. He said customers keep coming back and saying they want more. Just two weeks of marketing on the east coast, they sold over 30,000 boxes. It's pretty impressive."
Mr Muir says that growers want to plant more trees to keep up with the demand, but a cap has been applied to prevent an oversupply, and a reduction in prices.
"We've set a programme in place, and we have always said that we never want to get into overproduction," he said. "We ask premium prices for this product. So that is an insurance for the growers. We've got a planned sales programme that is going according to plan and we are expecting 20-24 weeks of marketing. If sales keep going at this rate, it will be closer to 20 than 24 - just because of all the repeat buying that is going on."
Kanzi apples are grown in all of the major apple regions across the country, including: Manjimup down to Pemberton in Western Australia, the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Shepparton and Bright in Victoria, as well as Batlow and Orange in New South Wales, Stanthorpe in Queensland and the Huon Valley and Tamar Valley in Tasmania. All growing regions experienced a hot summer this year which has put a lot of stress on the trees and the fruit.
"It has been extremely hot - probably the worst conditions that we have faced," Mr Muir said. "But in saying that we have got some good quality fruit. Kanzi handles the heat pretty well, compared to other varieties. But in saying that, some growers are running out of water, it's pretty harsh - on all varieties not just Kanzi. That's all over Australia. Western Australia has been probably the least affected, as we had what you would call a mild summer. We didn't get the massive heatwaves that the other states have had. Tasmania was dry, but overall was OK."
The future looks quite bright for this Club variety going forward, according to Mr Muir. Australia became the first country in the world to provide a "pick your own" experience for the Kanzi variety, on the first weekend of the season in Victoria's Yarra Valley, with Sanders Apples hosting the Kanzi Apple Festival.
"It went very well, given it was the first time and the limited publicity," Mr Muir said. "They had just over 500 people visit in two days. So, it was considered a success. It could become a yearly thing, but we may shift it around to different locations, so people can try it in different areas. So, it's just a publicity opportunity really, to get people aware of the product - and some people just love 'pick your own' on a variety of produce."