Wenatchee, WA – CMI Orchards has announced significant growth in KIKU® brand apple sales and production. The popular apple is now outpacing the entire branded apple category.
According to Nielsen Answers on Demand, over the past 52 weeks KIKU® is ranked seventh in both sales dollars and volume for branded apples in the US. KIKU® sales have increased 37% in volume compared to last year and are now sold in 3800 stores throughout the United States. The entire branded apple category is up 21%.
“We’re not surprised that customers are demanding KIKU® apples. People compare KIKU® to its cousin the Fuji all the time, and discover that KIKU® has a more intense and sweeter flavor. It’sa fantastic eating experience with a beautiful striped ruby-red color. One of my favorite things about KIKU® apples is that they are one of the few apples that really deliver a ‘wow’ experience. We love hearing reports from customers that KIKU® apples are their favorite. Usually it’s a ‘wow – this has incredible flavor and is so super sweet!’. We ended up picking just slightly over our estimate, which is a great position for us to be in and gives us more opportunities to support retail demand. We continue to plant KIKU® because of its value and success and foresee a long and vibrant future for this apple,” explained Tim Welsh, General Manager of Fruit Growing Operations for Columbia Fruit Packers, Inc.
Columbia Fruit Packers, Inc. (CFP) is one of the four families that comprise the ownership of CMI Orchards, and was granted the exclusive right to grow KIKU® apples in Washington State. CFP sub-licenses to two of the best grower/packers in their respective regions; Rice Fruit Company in Pennsylvania and Applewood Orchards Inc. in Michigan, to extend the seasonal availability of KIKU® apples forming a U.S. grower alliance.
“The KIKU® apple has registered at the top of the charts in sugar brix content, and is super juicy and crunchy as well. It really connects with customers when they take that first bite. These are no doubt the sweetest apples on the shelf, and they always leave customers reaching for more. Customers write us from all over the country to share how much they have fallen in love with KIKU®, and frequently ask where they can find them,” explained Brenda Briggs, VP of Sales and Marketing at Rice Fruit Company, which is a member of the U.S.A. KIKU® Alliance.
One contributing factor to the growth of KIKU® apples is the extensive promotional support offered to retailers. The brand has a long history of successful and prominent KIKU® promotion, including sponsorship of the Twenty16 women’s cycling team, which was training for the 2016 Olympics, and as part of the 2017 SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station. Astronauts reported back that the KIKU® apples they enjoyed in space had out-of-this-world flavor and taste.
“This year we’ve shifted our promotional focus due to the COVID pandemic. We’re working with retailers and offering support for local kids’ sports clubs and organizations. With the cancelation of most sports and activities and an uncertain economy, we are working with retailers to identify local needs and supporting kids’ activities to ensure they remain accessible and affordable. KIKU® has worked with retailers throughout the country to sponsor team jerseys, equipment, water bottles- whatever is needed. It’s a wonderful way to partner and provide funding to support the greatest local needs,” explained CMI Vice President of Marketing George Harter.
“In addition to the promotional support, we’ve expanded our packaging line for KIKU® to respond to COVID. We now offer 2# pouch, 3# pouch, 3# poly, and 4# pouch options, as well as totes. Customers want premium flavors in their homes, and quick decisions for packaged items when shopping in the store. We’re very focused on providing retailers with ways to drive sales, and expanding our packaging line and continuing with effective promotion has shown strong results,” explained Briggs.
About KIKU® Apples
Steadily growing in popularity, KIKU® apples have gained a devoted following among apple connoisseurs who adore their super sweet flavor and overall aromatic intensity. KIKU® apples are very exotic with a super sweet taste, crunchy flesh, and high juice content. Visually, KIKU® apples stand out from the crowd with their distinctive striping and ruby-red coloration. Perfect for snacking, salads, and baking, KIKU® apples are incredibly versatile. For more information visit www.sweetkiku.com
About CMI Orchards
CMI Orchards is one of the largest growers, packers, and shippers of premium Washington State apples, pears, and cherries. Selling the fresh fruit produced by its owners, four independently-owned family farming and picking companies in Central Washington, the CMI Orchards team is dedicated to delivering the best tasting, highest-quality fruit year-round to customers throughout the United States and the world.
For more information on CMI Orchards, visit www.cmiorchards.com.