A worker harvests Envy apples in an orchard in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. ( Courtesy The Oppenheimer Group )

Watch out North America, New Zealand’s coming with size, volume and promotions this summer.

After a season of smaller-than-average domestic apples, the New Zealand crop should be a refreshing change, said Dave Nelley, vice president of apple, pear and cherry categories for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia.

For Envy apples, this year has been historic.

“This was the first year we have had no gap between the domestic, USA-grown crop and our New Zealand fruit,” Nelley said. “It really elevates the Envy in terms of gross sales.”

First arrivals came in early June, with plenty of availability in larger apples. New Zealand-grown Jazz apples also have a lot of larger fruit available, Nelley said.

“We’re seeing some retailers on the East Coast switch into the new crop Jazz already because of the expensive truck rates to haul fruit from Washington,” he said.


Kiwifruit volumes up

SunGold has really been the story from Zespri the past two seasons, and this year’s crop has a lot to talk about, said Steve Woodyear-Smith, vice president of tropical, avocado and citrus categories for Oppy.

“This is a very exciting season,” Woodyear-Smith said.

“We’ve had significant volumes being shipped into this market earlier than ever before. It’s allowed us to really get out ahead of it over a period of time and work with accounts to generate excitement.”

Growing conditions were excellent not only for apples, but kiwifruit as well, he said, and unlike last season, green kiwifruit is expected to be plentiful.

“We did have a little bit of a weather-related hiatus on Zespri green, but we’re back in bigger volumes this year, expected to be 15% above the 2016 numbers,” he said. “Fruit is sizing larger, and eating exceptionally well.”


Summer promotions

Zespri launched an all new campaign for this season, “Real Giveaways for Real Life,” which targets moms emphasizing a nutritious snack for kids, that, like parenting, isn’t always pretty on the outside, said Sara Deaton, marketing manager for Zespri North America.

“Moms are constantly bombarded with the unattainable idea of being a perfect parent,” Deaton said. “Everyone knows that real life is not perfect, just like a Zespri SunGold is not perfect on the outside. It’s real, it’s imperfect, for perfectly amazing families.”

The campaign launched June 12 nationwide with digital promotions to drive consumers to a contest with “real” giveaways for “real life,” where winners can choose prizes from a list of items like college funds, staycations, and more.

It also has retail point-of-sale components, online radio and Hulu.

Jazz and Envy also are geared up for promotions this summer, said Brock Nemecek, regional marketing manager for Turners and Growers North America.

Jazz partnered with “Adventure Chef” Adam Glick for a summer sampling tour that emphasizes the active, adventurous lifestyle Jazz apples complement.

“He’s relatable, genuinely passionate about our product, and contributes solid, executable ideas based on his expertise in foodservice, media and brand collaborations,” Nemecek said.

The Jazz summer sampling tour kicks off in Seattle, and stops in Portland, Ore.; Denver and Cincinnati and concludes at the 2018 United Fresh convention, where Glick will be present as a featured chef in the Culinary Showcase.

The Envy Summer Roadshow kicks off in the greater Los Angeles area June 18 through July 31, giving consumers a chance to “bite and believe” Envy apples, with grower meet and greets, in-store and live sampling and a Skinny Dips sweepstakes.

Envy also is promoting a healthier “white” in its Skip the Whip PR campaign for July Fourth promotions, Nemecek said.

“Envy, with its slow-to-brown flesh, adds a healthier ‘white’ to your red, white and blue celebrations,” he said. “Ditch the whipped cream and other high calorie ingredients for a fresher alternative that low-fat lovers and freedom fans alike will adore.”