Supply of organic apples in Washington state has increased at a fairly rapid rate in recent years. “Here at Starr Ranch, our domestic organic apple program represents 14 percent of overall volume,” says Dan Davis with Starr Ranch Growers. “That’s quite a significant number and in addition, we import organic apples from New Zealand, Argentina and Chile to augment domestic supplies. It helps us in maintaining year-round availability.” As Starr Ranch has been growing its domestic organic apple program, the window for imports is getting smaller.
Re-inventing the game plan on the fly
“Supplies of organic apples have grown dramatically this year with an increase of more than 25 percent over previous years,” said Davis. Many orchards have been transitioning from conventional to organic supplies and due to the rapid expansion, supply of organic apples has outpaced demand. “It has forced us to re-invent the game plan on the fly.” However, on a positive note, Washington state is not expected to see an organic expansion in the next two to three years, so that will give the market a chance to catch up. “I believe this ‘supply-exceeds-demand situation’ will only last a couple growing cycles and then we will be back to a more balanced supply-demand equation.”
Offering all core organic varieties
The current market does provide retailers with an opportunity to expand their organic apple programs and offer the product at a reasonable price for consumers. Starr Ranch offers all the core organic varieties including Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp. In addition, the Crimson Delight variety is exclusively sold organically and the company’s proprietary varieties JUICI™ and KORU® will have an organic component starting next season. “We concentrate heavily on having enough of these premium varieties in stock,” said Davis. The organic consumer pays a premium for an organic apple and we do everything we can to make sure we have a premium product with the right taste profile, texture, storability, etc.