The New York apple season is well underway, having started in mid-September. Crunch Time Apple Growers a collective of 147 growers across the state of New York, who have exclusive rights to grow and market SnapDragon and RubyFrost apples reports sales are off to a healthy start.
Rena Montedoro, the company’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, notes there are about 1.5 million SnapDragon and RubyFrost trees in the ground and says: “Our family farms also represent about 70% of all apple production in the state of New York in addition to growing SnapDragon and RubyFrost.”
Growing market share
Montedoro states the 2019 season is shaping up to be great. “Over the last two seasons we have seen our market share growing and demand for the apple from retailer and consumers is up over prior years. In 2018 we doubled sales for SnapDragon in the Northeast and tripled sales in the southeast in select retailers.”
Montedoro points out that varieties have been experiencing steady expansion over the last three seasons. “In 2016, we were selling predominantly in the north-east, but we have been experiencing a lot of geographical expansion throughout these years. We are moving towards the west coast and have been seeing good sales in the Midwest, in states like Wisconsin.”
New York has unique climate
The apples grown in New York benefit from the climate, Montedoro explains. “We have hot summers, and then in the fall we see cold nights. This helps create high brix levels and gives the apples the color and juiciness we are looking for. SnapDragon was developed by Dr. Susan Brown from Cornell University and is a descendant of the Honeycrisp and an unnamed variety. SnapDragon has all of the great attributes of the Honeycrisp – the sweetness, juiciness and texture – but really it exceeds these qualities. The flavor profile is sweet with a bit of spice and a hint of vanilla, and this is really popular with consumers.”
The RubyFrost variety is known for its characteristic color. “It is deep, burgundy red, which gives it great aesthetics on the shelf. It also has really high vitamin C levels, is slow to brown, and has a nice texture. The RubyFrost is also great for growers because they are easier to grow than the Honeycrisp – they grow prolifically and are a large size. When we store them in controlled atmosphere storage, their quality gets even better: they last better on the shelf and look better on the shelf,” Montedoro adds.
This season has seen a volatile market, price-wise, but Montedoro comments: “We work hard on managing our prices to meet retailer needs as well as consumer demand. Our trees are reaching maturity and we have solid volume for both varieties.” Montedoro adds “SnapDragon sizes were bigger than last year. We also have the privilege of working with really exceptional growers. They all farm sustainably and are globally informed, and most of our growers are s family farms that date back five or six generations. These people really are experts: they plant the trees themselves and care for the trees themselves. They are out in the field every day, watching and monitoring and caring for every apple that winds up on the shelf.”
In light of their passion for their growers, the company is currently working on a marketing campaign which highlights the farmers: “We are putting a very strong focus on our current and future generations of farmers. Many of our farmers are very young, and are taking over the farms in their 20s and their 30s. They are the future of the sector and we have some really exiting stories to be sharing with our retailers and consumers about their vision and where the industry is going.” Montedoro concludes.