Local apple promotions continue to help consumers feel more connected to their produce, and apple shippers move more apples in their regions.
“Every year we’ve seen more of that, and it’s good because we’re getting into new bidding for local retailers who usually use Washington, especially for large-sized fruit,” said John Rice, president of Gardners, Pa.-based Rice Fruit Co.
This year, Rice Fruit Co. has a lot of galas, fujis, red and golden delicious in larger, tray-pack suitable sizes, Rice said.
“In January, February and March, we’re going to be doing a lot of grower-centric merchandising on apples,” said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc. “People want to know where their food comes from.”
Because it’s a family-owned company, Stemilt uses photos of the family tied in with its apples.
Michigan apples are shipping within a five-state region with Kwik Lok tags on poly bags that promote the product as locally grown.
“We’re within a day of two-thirds of the population of the U.S., and that’s local enough that it’s a selling point, so that’s huge,” said Jim Allen, president of the Fishers-based New York Apple Association.
The local movement is making waves in foodservice, too, Allen said.
“Many suppliers now are buying more locally grown apples because their customers are demanding it,” Allen said. “We supply foodservice companies with collateral they can supply their customers with.”
Allen said the association also does a lot with school foodservice.
It works with schools to help determine what varieties would be best for its uses, so that New York varieties can be bid, Allen said.