Growers have larger volumes of Kiku this season and anticipate continued positive response from consumers.

Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI Orchards projects a 49% jump in volume, according to a news release. Gardners, Penn.-based Rice Fruit Co. also expects a larger crop than last season despite losing some production to hail in late summer. Deerfield, Mich.-based Applewood Orchards also reports a strong crop.

“We’re excited about a big increase because we know Kiku is one of a small handful of branded apples that have a strong following with consumers,” CMI vice president of marketing George Harter said in the release. “When you look at the popularity of Kiku, it’s clear this apple has made a mark with consumers.”

He cited Nielsen scan data that has Kiku ranked sixth among best-selling branded apples, down from fifth the previous year.

“The short crop last year slowed us down just as we were starting to leverage growing Kiku demand by consumers,” Harter said in the release. “Well, Kiku is back and we’re ready to get retail promotions going with our customers.”

Growers state that sweetness is the distinguishing characteristic of apple, which is available much of the year because it is also imported from New Zealand.