Belding, Mich.-based BelleHarvest Sales Inc. is on track for another season of big Honeycrisp growth, said Chris Sandwick, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing.
Production of the variety could come close to doubling this year, giving Honeycrisps close to a 15% share of BelleHarvest’s total sales, Sandwick said.
In the fall, BelleHarvest will push tote bag sales of its Honeycrisps. Totes are not only an eye-catching option, Sandwick said, but they also protect delicate Honeycrisps better.
“We try to avoid 3-pound polys on Honeycrisps,” he said.
As the season progresses, BelleHarvest will switch to other packaging options for Honeycrisps and other varieties.
“We’re trying to get our premium trays out to more folks who haven’t worked with Honeycrisps in the past,” Sandwick said.
One of many Honeycrisp markets on the uptick for BelleHarvest is school foodservice.
“More and more schools are utilizing Honeycrisps, and they’re willing to do so at a higher price,” Sandwick said.
BelleHarvest ships a fair amount of Honeycrisps to area schools in the fall, he said. The apples tend to fall under a specialty category, however, because of their cost.
“They use them for a few weeks, then get out.”
As for the foodservice sector as a whole, BelleHarvest is being patient.
“Slowly, on a very small scale, foodservice is waking up to Honeycrisps and other premium varieties,” Sandwick said.
In addition to significantly increasing its Honeycrisps sales this year, BelleHarvest also expects more gradual increases of fujis and galas in 2014-15, Sandwick said.