The Oppenheimer GroupEnvy apples have been missing from stores since Washington supplies ran out in February, which has stoked demand for New Zealand supplies of the variety, says David Nelley, apple and pear category director for The Oppenheimer Group. Retailers and consumers aren’t lacking for choice when it comes to summer apples out of New Zealand.
The Oppenheimer Group may be best known for the Envy and Jazz, two Enza varieties.
But the Vancouver, British Columbia-based marketer offers other recent varieties like Smitten, Divine, Eve and Tentation plus such standards as braeburn, Pink Lady, fuji and royal gala.
“With all of these apples that come in the summer, you’ve really got to compete on eating quality against things like California nectarines, peaches and apricots and Northwest cherries,” said David Nelley, apple and pear category director at Oppy.
“It’s about dislodging some of the older (apple) varieties that have been around a little too long. The retailers are looking for something that can really perform on taste, flavor and repeat purchase.”
Nelley expected a strong reception for Envy as its New Zealand crop began arriving in the U.S. in early June.
The apple’s absence from shelves since Washington product sold out at the end of February stoked demand, he said, and promotional activities are planned. New Zealand Envy will be in the market until Washington production resumes in October.
“I spoke to a produce manager at New Seasons Market in Portland, Ore.,” Nelley said.
“He said his customers have been asking about Envy for the last three months. He likes it more than Honeycrisp. He said this year’s crop from New Zealand in particular is the best Envy he’s eaten.”
The variety’s appeal lies in a combination of high brix, crunch and full red color plus its utility for fresh-cut applications.
“When you slice it to sell or snack on, it doesn’t turn brown for about eight hours,” Nelley said.
“We’ve got major accounts running Envy with TV advertising through this summer,” he said. “So we’re expecting a really good uptake.”
The maturing of Envy trees foreshadowed increased production. Nelley expected all apples — except Tentation — to export more volume to the U.S. than last year. The same is true of pear varieties, he said, but the second week of June was too early to estimate the scope of the increase.
Jazz is a 12-month apple produced in both hemispheres, with New Zealand crop on the market through August. That’s been around 40% of Oppy’s apple imports from the country.
The marketer is also touting Smitten, a Prevar Ltd. variety.
“We’ve got the largest volume of this newer variety coming to North America,” Nelley said. “It’s finding widespread support from people who like a tarter apple.”
“The volumes of all are increasing, and we’re seeing slightly less demand for some of the commodity varieties,” he said.
“Red delicious, granny smith and golden delicious don’t really exist in volume in New Zealand anymore.”