Importers of New Zealand pipfruit report outstanding quality on taylorâs gold pears and other apple and pear varieties.
New Zealand growers were taking advantage of lower supplies of domestically grown and imported bosc pears in the U.S. and filling the gap with their taylorâs gold-variety pears, said David Nelley, pipfruit category manager for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.
Photos courtesy The Oppenheimer Group
Volumes of taylorâs gold pear shipments are increasing this season, reports David Nelley, pipfruit category manager for The Oppenheimer Group.
âWeâre selling a lot more taylorâs a lot earlier this year,â Nelley said.
In addition to the market opportunity with the lower bosc supplies, quality also was helping to move more taylorâs golds in 2010, Nelley said.
âItâs a vintage year in terms of quality, which doesnât happen a lot,â he said.
Tom Richardson, general manager of Wenatchee, Wash.-based Giumarra of Wenatchee, shared Nelleyâs enthusiasm for the taylorâs golds from New Zealand.
âThey may be the best Iâve ever tasted,â he said. âWeâve had a lot of feedback on how good the eating quality has been.â
Kroger and Whole Foods were among the U.S. retailers making a big push on taylorâs golds this spring and summer, Nelley said.
In early June, taylorâs gold and comice pears made up about 80% of total New Zealand pear export volume to the U.S., he said. Both varieties were expected to ship through July. Volume was up on both varieties.
âThe pear market is very good,â Richardson said.
Giumarra expected to have taylorâs gold supplies until mid-July. Volumes of the variety will be similar to last year or up just slightly, he said. The company also expected its New Zealand boscs to ship into summer.
Apple volumes rising
On the apple side, Oppenheimer expects its North American volumes of imported Jazz apples from New Zealand to increase by about 30% this season, Nelley said.
The New Zealand Jazz trees, now six or seven years old, are beginning to come into their prime.
The Oppenheimer Group expects to ship 30% more Jazz apples to North America this season.
âThe older the trees get, the better the quality,â he said. âTheyâre eating great this year.â
Braeburn volumes to the U.S. should be about the same as last year, Nelley said. Oppenheimer also is importing galas, pink ladys, granny smiths and fujis this year.
The last week of June, Giumarra of Wenatchee will bring in its first batch of a new variety, Divine, a cross between a golden delicious and a grive rouge, Richardson said.
Developed in France and grown by Heartland Fruit NZ Ltd., the red-skinned Divine is crisp and juicy with a sweet, strong flavor. Eventually, an organic version of it should be available in North America.
âWeâll have limited volumes the first year, but weâre very excited about the apple itself,â Richardson said. âIt has a unique flavor. Itâs sweet and comparable to a fuji, but for me it has a little better balance of tanginess that the fuji doesnât have.â
Widescale production of the Divine is still a little ways away, Richardson. This season, Giumarra will focus on sending out a lot of samples to retailers so they can try it.
Another proprietary variety imported from New Zealand by Giumarra is getting a big boost this season, Richardson said.
The Tentation, another French creation, is in its third year of production, he said. Two years ago, the company brought in three containers. Last year it increased to 10, and this year Giumarra espects about 30.
âItâs a yellow variety, sweet and crisp, with a very perfume-like aroma,â he said.
By early June Giumarra had already been bringing in galas and braeburns for several weeks, with grannys and fujis just getting started, Richardson said.
Galas continue to be the top volume variety from New Zealand, with braeburns coming in second, he said.
Market conditions were good for New Zealand growers as the industry headed in to the heart of its export deal, Richardson said.
âDemand is picking up nicely at the moment,â he said. âDomestic supplies are starting to wind down, and retailers are still looking to put good-quality fruit in their stores.â