( Photo credit Roberta Sorge )

Organic apple volumes are up year-over-year, and Nielsen data from November 2019 shows that organic apples make up 8% of apple category volume and 10% of category dollars on average in the U.S., said Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager for Stemilt Growers LLC, Wenatchee, Wash.

“That’s great,” she said, “but best-in-class retailers have proven time and again that organics can be a bigger contributor to the category — some 15% to 20% — through a great plan for organics.”

Stemilt’s Artisan Organics program celebrated its 30th birthday in 2019, and organic apples now make up 30% of total apple volume at Stemilt.

“We focus on growing modern varieties that the consumer wants,” Shales said.

Approximately 40% of the company’s Honeycrisp crop is certified organic.

“We also have good volumes of organic fuji, Piñata and Pink Lady,” she said.

At Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Wash., Honeycrisp, fuji, gala, granny smith and Pink Lady are the main organic varieties, said Kevin Stennes, organic sales manager.

“It was a good growing season,” he said with few arrival issues and only a small amount of repacking needed.

“Things are storing well and receiving well at the wholesale and retail level.”

The eagerly anticipated Cosmic Crisp variety started shipping out of Washington in early December, he said.

“There’s huge demand for them,” he said.

The first certified organic Cosmic Crisp apples should be available later this year when the 2020 harvest begins.

Sage Fruit Co. LLC, Yakima, Wash., which offers organic versions of the major apple varieties, including red delicious, Pink Lady, fuji, granny smith and Smitten, has added a new line of 3-pound pouch bags, said Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing. 

There’s a 2-pound pouch bag for Honeycrisp.

The company also is testing the Apeel process to help extend shelf life. Early results appear promising for lengthening shelf life and assuring a larger ring at checkout, Sinks said. 

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