FirstFruits Marketing Now Utilizing New Technology as it Celebrates a New Look for Opal®
- by ANUK Staff
YAKIMA, WA – FirstFruits Marketing of Washington is building for success during the 2017-2018 apple season with new technology focused on exceeding quality expectations in all of their crops including proprietary varieties Opal® and Sweetie™ apples.
Earlier this year, FirstFruits completed the installation of a brand new packing line and automated palletizing system at their flagship facility at Broetje Orchards in the heart of their growing acreage in Prescott, Wash. The new additions improve the handling of fruit to ensure apples arrive in high-quality condition to assist in maintaining a longer shelf life at retail. The new systems also include improvements to the cold chain process to keep apples chilled from harvest to arrival.
Along with the improvements to infrastructure, Broetje Orchards welcomed Paul Esvelt as their new Post Harvest Manager in August to help manage the facilities and lead fruit storage, production and inventory management. Esvelt is a Washington apple industry veteran with more than a decade of experience.
“Paul will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our organization,” said Chuck Zeutenhorst, general manager of FirstFruits. “His diverse skill set and commitment to quality have already had a very positive effect this season.”
Organic tonnage at FirstFruits continues to rise, with emphasis on varieties consumers demand including Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and of course, Opal®.
“We continue to invest in and grow our organic program and remain committed to leading the industry in organic farming practices and varietal development,” said Zeutenhorst.
Adding to a theme of infrastructure improvements and new technology powering FirstFruits into the 2017-2018 season, visitors to PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans Oct. 19-21 can get an immersive view of Broetje Orchards through VR Goggles at Booth #1663.
Sweetie™, FirstFruits’ early exclusive variety, continues to gain ground this season. Known as Gala’s sweeter, crunchier cousin, this Braeburn and Royal Gala hybrid is intensely sweet and juicy with a crunchy texture and is only available for a limited time. The consumer favorite Opal® apple returns to the market beginning in late October. The bright yellow and naturally non-browning Opal provides a sweet and crisp eating experience and naturally resists oxidation that gives it a non-browning superpower. As the exclusive marketer of the Opal®, FirstFruits will offer the variety in both organic and conventional options and expects supplies to last through June 2018.
“The response to Opal continues to grow and remains positive among consumers,” said Zeutenhorst. “There’s a powerful fan following for the apple that continues to propel it upwards in both sales and volume. As of last season, Opal climbed into the list of the top 20 varieties.”
And Opal®, the highly-acclaimed apple creating a frenzy in the category, is sporting a new look for the 2017-2018 season along with a brand new consumer campaign that will have fans singing. Literally.
This season’s consumer campaign, entitled “SupercrispiOpalicious,” centers around a challenge issued to Opal fans to create and perform their own original song about why they love Opals. Launching late this fall, the public will be asked to vote on the top five performers selected by a panel of judges. The grand prize winner will be selected by both popular vote and FirstFruits judges and receive a prize package and featured spot on the Opal apple website.
The consumer favorite Opal apple boasts a bright yellow exterior, incredibly sweet flavor and distinctive crisp texture. Best of all, the apple is naturally non-browning, making it perfect for snacks, salads and lunchboxes. As of the 2016-2017 apple season, the Opal is among the ranks of the Top 20 varieties in the country.
“Opal fans are some of the most passionate and vocal apple-lovers we’ve ever seen,” said Chuck Zeutenhorst, general manager of FirstFruits. “The SupercrispiOpalicious campaign will give them an opportunity to engage with us in a very unique and interactive promotion.”
The familiar Opal logo received a facelift and a redesigned website will launch this fall to coincide with the release of the apples to the market. Opals are supported through a comprehensive marketing strategy including in-store support, a full calendar of consumer events and public relations, engaging social media and digital content, partnerships with consumer influencers and a highly-targeted digital advertising campaign.
FirstFruits represents Broetje Orchards, a leader in Washington organic apple production and an innovator in new varieties to the market, as well as Congdon Orchards. As the exclusive marketer of the Opal®, FirstFruits offers the variety in both organic and conventional options beginning in late October and expects supplies to last through June 2018.
FirstFruits’ apples are supported at retail through comprehensive marketing plans including point-of-sale materials, merchandising bins, social media content and produce manager education. For more information, please contact East Coast Regional Marketer Dennis Jackson or West Coast Regional Marketer Tim Corkill. Learn more about FirstFruits at www.firstfruits.com