“Where once we worried it was taking shelf space from another new variety, now we are seeing it is really a stand alone product,” said Robbin Erickson, sales manager for FirstFruits Marketing of Washington. “Having enough to fulfill our customers needs is a challenge,” he said.
Honeycrisp apples are marketed through the end of March, though some supplies will be available through June. Pricing in June 2013 was over $110 per carton.
Steensma said Honey Bear is doing a lot more sampling and sending more information to the buyers about appearance and characteristics of the varieties.
With only about a third of consumers estimated to have ever tried Honeycrisp, Steensma said the variety still has room to grow.
“The people who do eat it are hooked,” he said.
The USDA national retail report said ad prices for Honeycrisp apples were close to $3 per pound for much of the 2012-13 marketing season.
Bruce Grim, executive director at the Washington State Horticultural Association, said the Honeycrisp illustrated that both retailers and consumers are willing to pay more for desirable fruit than they have in the past.
Steensma predicts continued excitement for Honeycrisp and other new varieties.
“It’s a marketing challenge, but it is exciting,” he said. “There will be an evolution to new varieties and there will be market adjustment on the older varieties,” he said.