Greeting apples are popular for Mother’s Day and Easter, but demand is never as high as with Christmas, concludes Harrie Septer, who’s been selling the healthy greetings for Fruitmasters for about 22 years now.
“We work together with two growers, who grow the Jonagold and the Early Queen mutant for us. The harvest has been done at the end of September, and is sorted late November.” Sorting is the last step before the apple can go to the client. Applying the imprint already starts in summer, by applying stickers. The imprint used to comprise three types, but in recent years not just the greetings in Dutch, German, English and even Russian, but also the printing of general Christmas symbols is becoming increasingly important. Because during the season some stickers come off or apples don’t colour right, losses are relatively high in greeting apples: “About 25% of apples are rejected because the colouring isn’t good. Most apples have a nice colour this year, by the way, which means the imprint is nicely visible.”
Boxes and pallets
All in all, Harrie expects to send around 200,000 apples again this year, to about forty clients at home and abroad. “The client base ranges from the small grocers to retailers and wholesalers that buy from 20 boxes to entire pallets. In terms of price, the apple is at about the same level as last year. Around 60 cents per apple. What the consumer ultimately pays, differs for each supplier.”
At first, Fruitmasters has the market virtually for themselves. In recent years, more and more players are joining from Poland and Belgium, and Germans are also trying to take a piece of the pie. With varying success: “Sometimes you suddenly see a batch appear that tries it for a season, and then stops again. That’s not surprising either, because the production of greeting apples starts in summer already with applying the stickers. Then you should really know already how many you want to supply.” In addition, Hennie sees there are many small players, who apply the greeting through laser technology. “With laser technology, you don’t have to apply stickers in summer, and you can supply more focused, smaller batches. But the quality of the print doesn't look as good. But that’s personal, of course.”