New data from Nielsen Perishables Group shows strong increases in sales and volume for key import apple brands this year.

Retail sales data through June 1 shows U.S. supermarket volume of imported Kiku brand apples doubled during May, with other club brands such as Kanzi, Koru, Sweet Tango, Pacific Rose, and Ambrosia also showing gains, according to a news release from Wenatchee, Wash.-based Columbia Marketing International.

“International production from our Southern Hemisphere club variety partners continues to grow and we’re seeing it payoff in terms of greater supermarket sales during the summer months,” Robb Myers, director of sales and imports at CMI, said in the release.

The gains reflect a trend by retailers to allocate more space to club varieties, in much the same way they have given more shelf space to imported summer navel oranges, Myers said.

“In the past we saw some club apple brands suffer during summer as retailers cut back distribution and shelf space to make room for seasonal products like stone fruit, melons and grapes,” he said. “That’s really changed.”

Myers said a greater focus on club brand apples by Southern Hemisphere growers also is a reality.

“Southern Hemisphere growers used to be much more focused on sending apples like gala and fuji to the U.S. market,” Myers said in the release. “With increased storage and production of those varieties available domestically, the stronger sales opportunities are in growing club brands like Kiku, Kanzi, Ambrosia, Envy and others.”

The availability of club brand apples in the summer energizes the category at just the time it needs it, he said in the release.

Imported Ambrosia apples and Golden Bosc pears are available from CMI through the end of July, according to the release, while Kiku, Kanzi and Cripps Pink apples will ship through August.