As is mirrored in the national crop, New York State is down in apple supplies.
“New York State is down in some varieties—we’re going to have to manage some varieties to go longer with contract accounts because we just don’t have the supplies,” says John Cushing of New York Apple Sales based in Glenmont, NY. “There’s a huge demand on Galas right now and in certain areas of New York, Honeycrisp has ended early. But we’re lucky enough to have an influx of Honeycrisp from Nova Scotia so we can continue into July with that.”
He notes that while apple quality is strong, New York apples are sizing smaller which means more are making their way into bags, pouches and totes.
Overall, it can be a challenging time of year to market apples. “This is when a lot of retailers switch to citrus-forward displays and cut back on the SKUs of some items. So, we’re working on continuing our presence and ensure that apples are out there,” says Cushing.
The space for new products
Some have noted there’ve been challenges in pushing club apple varieties in the pandemic, particularly early on when retailers were cutting down overall SKUs of items to manage produce movement. “But it’s also partly the lack of face-to-face meetings to promote items. There’ve been no trade shows so having a new item and there’s been an inability to market it to a rapt item at a show,” says Cushing. “So much is done over Zoom and ultimately the produce business is about relationships. It’s hard to foster those via just email and text and people not in the office. But this isn’t just in apples—it’s throughout produce.” He adds as well that sometimes retailers also prefer to stay with what they have rather than introducing a new item in a difficult time.
That said, Cushing notes demand is particularly strong on some items, including varieties such as Galas and Honeycrisp and Fujis. “So, supply and demand are allowing us to increase that price,” he says. He adds that pricing has been strong all year and those popular items have seen an increase in pricing even.
Looking ahead, he notes there was a strong surge in apple movement last month. “I think it’s levelled off a little bit and there’s going to be a little flexibility in pricing for a little while. But I think it’s going to be a positive end to a difficult season,” says Cushing.