Barclay Crane of Pegasus Premier Fruit Talks Honey Bear Tree Fruit's Smitten™ Apple
WENATCHEE, WA - In 2010, Barclay Crane picked up a shovel and personally put 10 test trees into Quincy, Washington’s soil. Now, Pegasus Premier Fruit–exclusive North American Licensee, and Honey Bear Treefruit–lead sales agency, are looking at ramped up volumes of the increasingly popular Smitten™ apple as we head into the autumn months.
“We are anticipating in the 150,000 TP-equiv range sold from this crop,” Barclay shared with me recently, commenting that Smitten will be sold in various packaging across North America as well as exported to Asian markets. “Demand has been ramping up exponentially both in the U.S. and Canada since we introduced the first commercially-packed fruit (approx 10,000 TP) in 2015. We have also introduced significant import volume from New Zealand, which has been enthusiastically received.”
This year’s yields look strong, the team said, with little-to-no hurdles thus far from Mother Nature.
“We have not seen anything we’d characterize as unusual unlike the last two very early, warm growing seasons,” he says. “This season can be described as a ‘normal’ Eastern Washington summer...if there’s any such thing.”
Great news as the key response to the up-and-coming variety has been sell-through and re-orders from first-time chain supermarket customers.
“Several chain retailers have reported back that of the wave of new varieties coming through their supermarkets in the last several years, Smitten is the one customers consistently come back and ask for. We believe it’s a no-brainer for retailers: put it in the store and people will try, buy, and return for more. It is an extraordinary eating experience,” Barclay comments.
The team has also joined on with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation to co-promote in the interest of reducing cancer while introducing Smitten to the general consumer market. As a result, a portion of sales will be donated to breast cancer research.
“We are enormously grateful to be involved in this humanitarian effort while introducing Smitten,” Barclay shares. “We are also collaborating with several progressive chains in introducing Smitten in highly-decorative tote bags co-branded with the Komen logo.”
As we reported previously, Smitten growers focus greatly on its crunch and flavor, a trend Barclay says is something of a “paradigm shift” in consumer desires as the next shopping generation picks and chooses varieties.
“I call it the ‘Starbucksing of the Apple Industry,’” he adds, explaining that an interesting parallel could be drawn to the retail coffee industry when it went from a 50-cent commodity to an exciting $5-a-cup product.
Smitten is proudly grown exclusively by progressive multi-generational family growers all over North America with a collective sense of responsibility about growing food which is reflected in humane relationships with employees, customers, and suppliers alike.
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