“In changing to a red ‘skinned’ apple, foodservice operators have much greater purchasing options and can more easily take advantage of special buy opportunities throughout the season.”
Retail, too, keeps an eye on foodservice, but it’s a challenging market for some varieties, like Pink Lady, to break into.
“Foodservice is a market we’re really looking at,” said Alan Taylor, marketing director of Wenatchee, Wash.-based Pink Lady America LLC. “Our problem is they’re not branded. The package is either red or green. Processors will tell you Pink Lady is a premium slicer, crisp and slow to brown, But we have yet to convince a slicer to put the brand on a bag.”
Nevertheless, Pink Lady America sees a reason to pursue it.
“Our research shows consumers want to know what’s in the bag, and they’re willing to pay for it,” Taylor said. “I know, we’re not available 100%, but we’re working with slicers, and I think we’ll see a change one day.”
Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing at Yakima, Wash.-based Sage Fruit Co., said foodservice growth will make smaller fruit more appealing.
“There are many processors and export clamoring for smaller size apples, and these are some of the same size apples foodservice customers handle,” Sinks said. “As schools become more and more health-conscious, we are seeing their consumption of fresh apples growing. When you combine that growth with the fresh-cut apple market exploding from the fast-food marketers using fresh cut apples, the smaller apples in the market place are becoming high in demand.”