Drought likely to give New Zealand Envys opportunity in apple market
Look for a lot of Envys from New Zealand during the summer apple season in 2019, said David Nelley, apple category director for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.
The Envy variety will be prominent among the first shipments of New Zealand apples that started arriving at ports on the U.S. East Coast in early June, Nelley said.
Envys will be plentiful this season in spite of a November-February drought that enveloped New Zealand’s main growing area on the South Island and affected volumes of other varieties, Nelley said.
“The entire crop has been affected by smaller sizing, so we’re seeing reduced volumes of royal gala, braeburn and Jazz and Smitten,” he said, adding that Ambrosia apples also are affected.
Overall, apple volume could be down by “a good 20%,” compared to 2018, Nelley said.
That could work to Envy’s advantage, he said.
“It wants to grow big, so instead of producing a (size) 56 and 64, it’s producing more of a 64-72, which is in the sweet spot for North America.”
So, Oppy is anticipating a “Summer of Envy,” Nelley said.
“It’s going to be the largest volume of apples Oppy imports into North America this summer, with close to 70% of our volume being Envy,” he said.
Jason Bushong, division manager for Giumarra Wenatchee in Wentatchee, Wash., agreed that apple volumes out of New Zealand will be down this year.
“Total volumes are down this season due to smaller fruit sizes and global competition,” he said. “With the dynamic changes in global demand and flavor profiles, the New Zealand apple and pear industry continues to be at the forefront of new variety development,” he said.
Giumarra is entering another season of its Lemonade apple, a newer yellow apple variety that is a cross between gala and braeburn, Bushong said.
“Lemonade has a bright, sweet-tart flavor and crisp texture with a firm yet juicy crunch,” he said.
“It’s grown in New Zealand, and we are also working with growers in North America on first plantings to offer more volume on this variety.”
Glenmont, N.Y.-based Coast to Coast Growers Co-Op, comprised of U.S. growers from New York to Washington state — Yakima, Wash.-based Borton Fruit; Wenatchee, Wash.-based Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers; and Glenmont-based New York Apple Sales — imports the Koru apple from New Zealand.
“This year’s imported volume will be slightly less than last years, because of a smaller New Zealand crop,” said Jim Allen, vice president of marketing with New York Apple Sales.
“But the good news is that the smaller crop yielded exceptional fruit, with great color and size. Like any other apple variety, as the trees mature, the fruit quality increases. This year’s eating quality is superb, with high sugars.”