Chelan Fresh's Tim Evans Talks Pear and Apple Success This Season
- by Sarah Johnson
CHELAN, WA - Although the frozen months leave thoughts of harvest far behind, Chelan’s apple season is still going strong, with only 25 percent of its crop harvested. I spoke with Tim Evans, General Sales Manager for Chelan Fresh, to find out more about the company’s pear and organic apple crops.
This year, the company saw a smaller crop (around 100 million boxes) of its conventional apples. The biggest growth, Tim explained, was in its organic production.
“This year we have our largest organic crop that the state has seen, which is around that 17 million box mark,” Tim said. “There is great value in the organic crops this year due to the fantastic yield. Conventional apples have also seen pricing increases however, due to the smaller crop size. The company is very optimistic for the rest of this crop year.”
The most exciting news, he explained, for the 2018 crop is that the company has had its first real viable commercial volume in three of its proprietary varieties: KORU®, SugarBee®, and Rockit™. All three proprietary varieties will be available during November, December, January, and have already found enormous success with consumers.
“KORU promotions for this season will be mainly focused on January of 2019, and into spring, as there was a lighter crop for this apple than the other two varieties,” Tim noted. “The apple had a decent import season from New Zealand, and shipments of the apple to Chelan will start in May 2019. SugarBee apples have seen great early season success this year, and are already in high demand by consumers and retailers.”
Rockit apples are the darling of the season, with great volume availability, and success with consumers. The 3 lb shuttle pack of the variety has been well received during the consumer testing process, was nicknamed the “Millennial Mom’s Cookie Jar,” and has seen a lot of good exposure nationwide. Chelan Fresh is testing the Rockit in the 2 lb pouch this year as well.
All varieties will be highlighted by the Chelan Fresh marketing teams, with their primary focus being on getting fruit to consumers.
“We want to make sure we do right by the brand for each variety, and the only way we’re going to make sure we do that is by getting it to consumers," Tim explained. "This is achieved through POS material, display material, demos, and a heavy emphasis on social media in the marketing campaigns. With generous budgets, momentum is being generated by marketing Chelan apples.”
Another crop seizing the spotlight this season is Chelan’s pears, particularly the Bartlet, Bosc, and D’anjou/Red D’anjou varieties.
“Northwest pears are a very important part of the fruit category, and there is some real value there this year because of the size of the crop,” Tim told me, mentioning the abundance of smaller pears in this years crop are lending themselves well to Chelan’s branded pear pouches. The company has been building its presence in the category for some time, and has found enormous success this growing season.
At the end of the day, it is all about quality fruit and quality relationships at Chelan Fresh.
“Chelan Fresh has a lot of momentum as a marketing organization. We have great growers, and we are excited to get them a decent return on their fruit this year,” Tim concluded.
There are surely more varieties and many new and exciting marketing campaigns to come from Chelan in the new year, and AndNowUKnow will continue to report on the latest developments from the industry.