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US: Apples continue to dominate fresh fruit sales

According to Nielsen data, apple sales were $3.77 billion last year, which was down 2.8% from 2017. Still, apples remain the No. 1-selling fruit commodity in dollars. Honeycrisp has continued to flourish and now accounts for the most sales of any variety, while most of the other key varieties like gala, red delicious, fuji and granny smith all declined in sales.

As retailers anticipate the peak of the apple seasons, they should remember that when promoted properly, these popular commodities can drive seasonal sales.

Brianna Shales, communications manager for Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Washington, says chill is fortunately a non-issue in Washington State and is certainly adequate this year: "Spring started late, which will likely push bloom off, but it's all assumptions at this point," she says. "The 2018-19 apple crop was down in volume as a state, and we expect a bigger crop in 2019-20, as long as Mother Nature cooperates."

Washington saw one of the longer and harder winters it's had on record, says Andy Tudor, vice president of business development for Rainier Fruit Co., Yakima, Washington, which he says will delay the harvest window maybe seven to 10 days.

Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing for Sage Fruit Co., Yakima, Washington, says beginning late spring, and into the summer, the company will have its Southern Hemisphere Breeze and Cheekie apples available. "New crop 2019 will also bring with it the industry-wide launch of Cosmic Crisp apples," he says. "Several Sage Fruit growers will be among those that harvest this new variety in 2019. Additionally, we will have an increased volume of Smitten and Pazazz apples available for the 2019-2020 apple season."

Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., Summerland, British Columbia, says the company projects about 10,000 bins of its Arctic apples from the 2019 harvest, roughly split 50/50 between two varieties: Arctic granny and Arctic golden. "We currently have close to 600 acres of Arctic apple trees in the ground now and we anticipate that number will increase to more than 2,000 acres by the end of 2020," he said.


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