NEW ORLEANS — Rena Montedoro, director of marketing for Crunch Time Apple Growers, said the group is expanding marketing efforts for New York’s ascending SnapDragon and RubyFrost varieties. 

The varieties, developed by Cornell University, are grown exclusively in New York by 145 growers and marketed by six shippers.

Montedoro said at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit that SnapDragon has been marketed for about three years, while RubyFrost is entering its fifth year.

“We’ve got more apples coming, and this year expanded our retail base to include H-E-B, Costco, Aldi, and I think we are going to go into Kroger as well,” she said. 

Prices for the varieties are targeted to be just under the Honeycrisp selling price, Montedoro said.

The group is considering expanding production into Europe. No expansion in other U.S. states is planned. “Because of brand protection, we may want to keep it exclusively for the state of New York,” she said. 

Shippers handling the varieties are New York Apple Sales, Hess Brothers, Fowler Farms, Niagara Fresh Fruit Co,, Apple Acres and Hudson River Fruit, she said.

SnapDragon enthusiasts

A brand refresh and boosted online and social media presence paid off for SnapDragons, according to a news release.

“Something we discovered when we executed our online strategy, was there was an audience of SnapDragon enthusiasts out there waiting for our apple and trying to buy it before we had even started picking,” Montedoro said in a news release.

The group created a new website and social media for SnapDragon and started a promotion with Schwinn bicycles to give away a bike a week in a consumer contest that runs through November.

SnapDragon is also the official apple sponsor of Tough Mudder obstacle events, according to the release.

The company launched a Seek the Snap Facebook campaign the week of Oct. 23 in which fans can share where they bought SnapDragons for a chance to win apples and a tote bag.

“We want to further engage our online fans as well as show retailers that consumers are demanding our product and sometimes go to great lengths to get their ‘Snaps,’” Montedoro said in the release. 

The Packer copy chief Amelia Freidline contributed to this story.