NEW ORLEANS — Larger than anticipated volume of smaller-sized Jazz apples will boost bag and export opportunities for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.
The 2013 Jazz crop from Oppenheimer’s 40 Washington growers is expected to total about 1 million to 1.1 million cartons, close to last year’s crop, said David Nelley, apple pear and cherry category director. Sizing is peaking on 100s and 113s for Jazz, he said.
Nelley said there are strong promotional opportunities for 3-pound bags in the U.S. and the chance to move good volume of the preferred smaller fruit to Asian markets.
Hot weather during August caused some maturity issues for all Washington apples at the start of harvest, but Nelley said those issues are over. Harvest started in late September and will continue through May, he said.
Nelley said Oppy’s Pacific Rose production in 2013-14 is expected near 468,000 cartons, up from 450,000 cartons in 2012-13.
Strong export demand
Pacific Rose orchards that were hail damaged a year ago have bounced back, Nelley said Oct 20, at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit. Harvest is expected to begin in late October for Pacific Rose and demand is already strong.
“The export demand is huge, the strongest I’ve seen,” he said.
With an early Chinese New Year (Jan. 31), Oppy will be exporting solidly through November and December to have the fruit arrive in Asia the early part of January.
Nelley said the Pacific Rose is a New Zealand apple variety found ideal growing conditions near Brewster, Wash.
“We get beautiful, big apples, fully red and thin-skinned up here in Washington,” he said. Average size of the Pacific Rose is expected to peak on size 80s.
Growers want to get more U.S. consumers familiar with the variety, and Oppy will sell high-quality export-grade fruit to U.S. retailers, Nelley said.
“We want to show the domestic U.S. market how good this apple can be,” he said.
Retailers who serve Spanish and Asian consumers will be targeted, since the those consumers generally prefer a sweet, thin-skinned fruit. Marketing of Pacific Rose is expected to run from late October through late April, Nelley said.
Oppy’s Envy variety was successful last year, with 68,000 cartons marketed at an average f.o.b. of close to $50 for cartons for all sizes and grades, he said. Volume of the variety was up from only 4,000 cartoons from 2011-12. For 2013-14, Oppenheimer expects to market about 200,000 cartons of Envy, Nelley said.
“There are enough trees in the ground to yield a million boxes several years from now,” he said.
One retailer in Los Angeles retailer told Oppy that one side-by-side display of Envy and Honeycrisp last season yielded more Envy sales.
Oppenheimer is still in market development mode for Envy, and the goal for this year is to encourage a cheaper price point for more consumer demand.
“We are spending a lot of money on sampling and export demos,” he said.
Harvest for Envy will start about Nov. 1 and the marketing season is expected to conclude at the end of February, Nelley said.
The Envy also is a popular export apple, with report of a few cases pallets being air freighted into select markets at close to $100 per carton. Asian markets love the crunch and the flavor of the Envy, in addition to their ability for the variety to stay firm on the retail shelf, he said.
Nelley said Oppy offers about 15,000 cartons of organic Jazz and 9,000 cartons of organic Pacific Rose. Organic Envy volume, still in the process of certification, will first be marketed in two about years, Nelley said.
Some retailers have traded out granny smtih apples for Jazz apples, Nelley said, while others have switched out red delicious and put in the Envy variety.
“There is a limit (to how many varieties retailers will carry), but there is also right now a window of substitution,” he said. “Some of the old varieties go out and some of the newer varieties go in,” he said.
Total Produce ties
Louth, Ireland-based Total Produce has already bought 35% of Oppy and will have controlling interest in the company when it ramps its buy-in up to 65% in 2017.
European marketing manager Vincent Dolan of Total Produce joined Oppy marketing coordinations manager Karin Gardner in speaking about the partnership at Fresh Summit 2013.
“It’s our first foray into North America,” Dolan said.
But the two agreed Total Produce is taking a hands-off cooperative approach to the deal.
Total Produce hopes to bring its Near Field Communications technology to Oppy. Dolan explained the tags are like quick-response codes, only one needs to just tap a compatible device on the code, not scan it.
Total Produce’s Top Fruit Hub app went live Oct. 21 and Dolan said “it all centers on fun,” with its first application being a video showing a pumpkin being launched into space.
Sections Editor Dan Galbraith contributed to this report.