US (CA): Apple growers seek to capitalize on niche window

California's apple production pales in comparison to Washington's large crop. But while California's growers can't compete on volume and don't exert the influence Washington's growers have, they hope to build their crop by capitalizing on opportune moments during the year.

“We have challenges as the Pacific Northwest growers grow their programs,” said Rich Sambado of Primavera Marketing. “Our only way to survive is to get better fruit and more production per acre to offset our rising labour costs and low prices for apples from Washington.” Compared to Washington's crop, which routinely surpasses 100 million boxes of apples harvested per year, California's 2 million boxes per year is extremely small. But in addition to improving yields and varieties, careful marketing of the crop is also key to growing California's crop.

“We try to maximize our window of availability with an emphasis on freshness,” said Sambado. “That means fresh Galas in July, fresh Fujis in August, Fresh Granny Smiths in late-August and Fresh Pink Lady apples in October. We try to compete with quality and a lot of volume in a short window.” An early start to this year's harvest made it more difficult to find that niche, so there was more competition from Washington fruit and imported apples from Chile.

“This year, we were a solid week ahead of schedule,” said Sambado. “The early start had a negative effect because there was less time for the market to clean up the fruit from Washington and Chile. We didn't crank up sales until later in August because there was still fruit from the old crop in the system.”

For more information:
Rich Sambado
Primavera Marketing
+1 209 931 9420

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