Apple growers and shippers in the eastern U.S., and specifically New York, are trying to build further on an already-strong foundation of foodservice sales.
The Fishers-based New York Apple Association recently received a specialty crop block grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for just that purpose, said Cynthia Haskins, the NYAA’s president and CEO.
“We are continually developing linkages between our apple shippers, growers and foodservice institutions on many favorite apple varieties and apple products,” she said.
The grant, via the New York state government, is designed to help build market opportunities within the institutional feeder space, Haskins said.
The project will market New York apples and apple products to the state’s school foodservice programs and correctional facilities, she said.
“By focusing on schools in this way, we can also influence children at an early age and help them recognize that New York apples are a healthy and tasty food choice.”
The project is just one of many ways to find consumers through foodservice outlets, she said.
“There are tremendous opportunities in foodservice for whole fruit and fresh-cut fruit alike,” Haskins said.
“Putting a whole apple on a tray is effortless. Beyond that, apples as an ingredient can bring freshness and crunch to every course. Labor to prepare ingredients is a significant foodservice cost, so fresh-cut apples — slices, dices, rings — can help address the foodservice industry’s needs.”
Foodservice is a growing sales outlet for apples in the East, grower-shippers say.
“It’s a huge value to the industry,” said Mark Nicholson, executive vice president of Geneva, N.Y.-based Red Jacket Orchards.
“Certainly, there’s the mainstay with the school lunch and feeding programs. That’s always a good home for our smaller fruit.”
Apples in the 125-150 size range are particularly prized in foodservice, Nicholson said, but “the 125s through 150s may be a little short this season because of the overall large sizing we’re having.”