For one apple grower, this year’s Fresh Summit 2019 taking place in Anaheim, Ca. October 17-19 is giving the company a little chance to show off.
“Visitors to our booth will see our beautiful Eastern grown fruit on display as well as our attractive line of packaging,” says Brenda Briggs with Rice Fruit Co. in Gardners, Pa. “This includes brand pouch bags and our newly introduced Honeycrisp carton--it is stunning!”
The show falls of course in the middle of Pennsylvania’s apple season and Briggs notes that Rice Fruit has harvested Royal Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, McIntosh, and Red and Golden Delicious. Soon, Granny Smith, Aztec Fuji, KIKU® brand apples and Pink Lady will also be added to the mix of varieties available.
Jill Hughey, Brenda Briggs and Maggie Travis of Rice Fruit.
“There is real excitement in the market for regional growth fruit. This year’s harvest is a return to more normal growing conditions and an excellent quality crop,” says Briggs. “We’re delighted with the flavor and appearance of the crop and therefore anticipate higher pack outs.”
As far as demand, Briggs notes that Rice has a loyal following of Eastern customers for its apples and with October being a good month for apple promotions, she’s expecting continuing good and steady sales.
“Sales have been brisk since mid-August when our season started. Opening pricing was good and similar to last year. Prices are now starting to settle as the harvest proceeds and the various regions across the country are in production as well,” she says. She also adds that with a healthy volume crop of apples in the U.S. this year, there’s uncertainty given the many trade issues impeding free-flowing trade. “Export markets and customers are very important to the profitability of the industry,” she says.
For now, Rice Fruit’s fall business is focused on the domestic market with both retail and wholesale customers largely on the East coast. “To date, business has been very good. Especially for two favorite early harvest apples—Gala and Honeycrisp,” she says. “Supplement demand for Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Fuji apples has also been good.”
While apple sales are good right now, Briggs does note that per capita, the consumption of apples is still flat or slightly declining. “For all of the great developments in technology, growing practices and great- tasting new varieties introduced in the last 10-15 years, the larger industry has more work to do,” says Briggs. “The sheer number of different apples available has created a sense of over-saturation from buyers to consumers.”
It’s likely that consumption levels and varieties available will both be topics of conversation for Rice at its Fresh Summit booth (#749) this year. “The show is a great venue to meet and talk with our customers, to showcase our fruit and new packaging,” she says. “It’s also a great way to observe and learn about trends and developments.”