WENATCHEE, WA – Although we are just entering the holiday season and spring planning may feel like it is out in the distance, Stemilt Growers is encouraging retailers to pick up those planners and lean into the company’s Honeycrisp apple leadership, including premium programs like Honeyhill™ Incredible Honeycrisp apples and expanded volumes of Artisan Organics™ Honeycrisp.
“We have a state-of-the-art Honeycrisp program that allows retailers to carry a consistent quality of Honeycrisp apples in their stores nearly year-round,” says Pepperl. “We have added in beautiful Honeycrisp strains as well as a fantastic line up of organic Honeycrisp apples that will delight consumers.”
Stemilt has evolved into a leading supplier of the variety and has used its past years of experience to perfect the art of growing premium Honeycrisp varieties, explains Pepperl. Stemilt supplies traditional Honeycrisp varieties, but has also added the Premier and Royal Honeycrisp strains to its lineup. Premier comes off the tree early in the growing season and kicks off the new Honeycrisp season with great color and qualities. Royal is a high color Honeycrisp strain with high starch reserves to help Stemilt with long-term storage needs. Royal Honeycrisp not only extend the variety’s season but also help Stemilt deliver premium Honeycrisp with fall-like flavors throughout the year.
“We have recognized the demand of this apple variety for the past several years and have planted around that demand with several strains and new Honeycrisp crosses,” explains Pepperl. “Those trees are now responding by providing us increased volumes and high qualities of the apple eating experience that consumers are after.”
With a wide variance of Honeycrisp apple color and quality in the marketplace, Stemilt created a branded box for its premium Honeycrisp apples to be showcased in. Honeyhill™ Incredible Honeycrisp cartons are carefully packed with high color and high-quality Honeycrisp apples. Stemilt’s also grows Honeycrisp apples organically under Stemilt’s Artisan Organics™ brand and packs its petite-sized Honeycrisp in the popular kid-size fruit brand, Lil Snappers®.
“Honeycrisp is available in bag or bulk, conventionally or organically, and in various sizes so that any type of consumer will be satisfied,” explains Pepperl. “Our organic consumer will especially be happy because our Honeycrisp crop is nearly 40% organic. With this, we will also be able to provide the organic consumer high quality Honeycrisp apples nearly year-round.”
Stemilt has been able to strengthen their Honeycrisp crop over the past several years by planting new Honeycrisp strains and trademarked apples from the same breeder that developed Honeycrisp. The company has developed harvest and packing protocols to provide Honeycrisp with the extra TLC it needs.
“Picking Honeycrisp is quite tedious at Stemilt, but that extra care is how we ensure quality first,” says Pepperl. “Fruit is picked by hand, stems are clipped, and then crews will hand place each apple in a specific pattern in the bin to prevent bruising. On the packing side, it’s all about having specific storage regimes for Honeycrisp and packing to order for maximum freshness.”
Outside of supplying three strains of Honeycrisp for near year-round supply, Stemilt has amplified its apple presence by adopting successors to Honeycrisp, Rave® and SweeTango® as signature apples. Both have Honeycrisp as a parent and come from the same breeder at University of Minnesota that discovered Honeycrisp. Rave® comes off the trees in late July to kick start the apple season, while SweeTango® arrives a few weeks later to further helps set the tone for the Honeycrisp season.
“There is a high demand for flavor among consumers and that’s what Honeycrisp and its successors have brought to the apple category,” said Pepperl. “Our Honeycrisp program has been designed to help retailers extend their season, differentiate on flavor, and expand premium offerings in the organic category. Together, we can keep building successful plans to grow this variety and the apple category.”
Stemilt Growers is a leading tree fruit growing, packing and shipping company based in Wenatchee, Washington. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt is the leading shipper of sweet cherries and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of organic tree fruits. Stemilt has also demonstrated a commitment to sustainable agriculture and social responsibility since 1989, when founder Tom Mathison launched the company’s Responsible Choice program. For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com and follow Stemilt on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and You Tube.