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New York's apple forecast, promotion plans

New York apple growers are harvesting a forecasted 28 million cartons — or 1.1 billion pounds — of apples over the coming weeks. The 2017 crop forecast was developed at U.S. Apple Association’s Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference Aug. 24-25, and updates U.S. Department of Agriculture’s July forecast, according to the New York Apple Association.14998626513 2387866d49 z

NYAA is planning a full-court press to get the word out about this year’s crop to wholesale, institutional and consumer customers alike, said NYAA President Cynthia Haskins.

While New York’s 2017 apple crop will be of average size for the state, the crop size is about the only thing that will be average this year. The state has generally had favorable weather for bloom and during the growing season, so apple fans — wholesale and consumer alike — will find ample supplies of all their favorite New York state apples and cider this fall. Fruit size and finish are expected to be good.

“New York state grows more apples than any other state east of the Mississippi River, our state is made for growing apples,” said Haskins. “There is no reason for New Yorkers and other East Coast buyers to look any farther than their own back yard for great tasting apples and apple cider.”

The association’s marketing team began calling on retailers in early summer to talk up the bounty of the coming crop and to offer to customize marketing programs. Led by Haskins, that team includes NYAA’s new Retail and Foodservice Account Manager Michele Hoard, and the association’s long-time Northeast Account Manager Susan McAleavey Sarlund. NYAA has also tapped NYAA alumnus David McClurg to support the association’s 2017 retail promotional activities, and to implement a foodservice market-development grant project.

“Our experienced team has a broad marketing toolbox to aid retailers, including ‘high tech’ and ‘high touch’ tools from demos to digital couponing,” said Haskins. “We can advise you on everything from the basics, such as training store-level personnel, to on-trend promotions that tap into the latest food trends.”

The big news in apples today is variety, both new variety innovation and the classic consumer favorites, notes Haskins. New York’s has perfect geography and climate for growing apples, and that shows in the wide variety and great eating quality of the state’s apples. New York is known for classic varieties, including McIntosh, Empire and Cortland.

At the same time, New York state is a leader in new variety development. Cornell University recently debuted RubyFrost and SnapDragon, two varieties that can only be grown in New York state. The state also grows Honeycrisp and Gala, relatively new varieties in the apple world.

“Consumers are telling us that they want the new varieties as well as the classic favorites,” said Haskins. “That just goes to show that there really is a variety for every person’s palate.”

NYAA is urging New York and East Coast retailers, wholesalers and institutional buyers to buy local. Haskins noted that the country’s largest consumer market, New York City, is local, and that nearly every major metropolitan market on the East Coast is within a day’s drive.

NYAA is also reaching out to New York consumer press to encourage New Yorkers to buy local apples and cider. The association is highlighting the broad range of apple tourism opportunities that are available across the state, where apples are grown from the lower Hudson Valley to the upper Adirondacks, and to the west.

“Our consumer marketing is designed to complement our retail activities, by driving demand and traffic to mass-market retailers as well as to our industry’s own direct marketers,” noted Haskins.

The association’s website, www.NYAppleCountry.com, is designed to help consumers find a farm market, “u pick”, cider maker or apple festival nearby, with a handy locator map located front and center on the website’s home page.