YAKIMA, Wash. — Southern Hemisphere supplies of Jazz apples were exhausted in August, and that made buyers in the U.S. all the more anxious for the start of the Washington Jazz harvest.
David Nelley, pipfruit category manager for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, said 2011 apple market was a “once in five years” market, with a late harvest start and firm domestic market conditions that were mirrored with very low supplies and high prices on imported fruit.
Because the high value of the New Zealand currency made it impractical to bring big volumes of New Zealand fruit to the U.S., supply of New Zealand-based Enza’s Jazz apples from the Southern Hemisphere was wrapping up before the start of Washington Jazz harvest, Nelley said.
“When I go see buyers, they are disappointed and eager to know when the fresh crop out of Washington will start,” Nelley said.
Enza has about 38 growers in Washington who are involved growing Enza varieties, he said.
Buyers are pleased with how the Jazz performed in the 2010-11 season, finishing in April at near $30 per carton. In mid-August, limited Jazz supplies from New Zealand were priced at $38-42 per carton, Nelley said.
“It gives us confidence about the bigger volume coming out of Washington (this season),” he said.
Jazz volume in Washington state is projected to start about Oct. 24, with volume rising from 820,000 cartons in 2010 to 960,000 cartons in 2011, he said.
Fruit sizes may tend toward 100s and 113s rather than the 88s and larger that were more common last year, Nelley said.
Retailers are receptive toward the smaller sized Jazz apples to promote to kids, Nelley said.
“A number of customers are signing on to the snack, or kid-sized apple,” he said.
Jazz is a good kids’ apple because it is tasty and will last in the lunch box, he said.
Meanwhile, Enza’s Envy apple will featured limited volume of about 5,000 cartons this year, he said. Most of the Envy apples will be exported, Nelley said. Envy can be sliced and the flesh will not turn brown readily, he said. Production will ramp on Envy in the next few years. The fruit has been promoted at $1.99 per pound at retail, which has made it accessible consumers.
Meanwhile, Enza’s Pacific Rose, available in November, is expected to feature volume of about 360,000 cartons, Nelley said. About 60% of the Pacific Rose is exported, Nelley said. He said the Pacific Rose is very popular in China. The apple grows very well in Washington — better than it can be grown in New Zealand, he said.
As of the 2010-11 season, Oppenheimer and Rainier Fruit Co. co-market the Jazz in North America. Suzanne Wolter, director of marketing for Rainier Fruit Co., said the arrangement has worked well.
“We had some excellent success with promotions, and after the promotions were over, sales continued to grow,” she said.