ORLANDO, Fla. — Chelan Fresh featured apples including SugarBee, Koru, Rockit and three new red-flesh varieties at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Oct. 19-20.
This will be the first season for widespread distribution of SugarBee, said organic sales manager Kevin Stennes. Volumes are projected to grow significantly in the coming years.
“It’s got a lot of the good qualities of Honeycrisp,” Stennes said. “It fractures like that, and (has) the snap, but it’s denser flesh, it doesn’t have the bitter pit problems that we see on Honeycrisp ... You get better packs per bin, you get better arrivals without some of the notorious Honeycrisp issues that are there, so we’re excited about it.”
The Chelan, Wash.-based company also talked about new 2-pound pouch bags for its Rockit apples, which were originally available on tubes, going along with the name of the variety.
“The tube is kind of restrictive on who’s interested and where it gets merchandised and all that, so we’re going to be moving more volume of Rockit with the new pack types,” Stennes said, noting that a 3-pound shuttle pack is also available.
Perhaps some of the most attention-grabbing items at the Chelan booth were red-flesh varieties Lucy Rose and Lucy Glo — the former with red skin and the latter with yellow skin.
“This is the first year where these are going out on the market and have been named,” Stennes said. “Last year they were still in a test phase. They only got named in the last three months or so.
“Most of what we have picked and what’s going to get packed this year is mostly going to go out as samples, so we probably won’t even sell a whole lot of them, they’re small volumes still, but we’re sending them out as samples, getting ready for when we have the bigger volumes, basically next year and beyond,” Stennes said.
The red-skin, red-flesh Lucy Rose has more of a berry taste, while the yellow-skin, red-flesh Lucy Glo is more tart.
“These ones eat really good, so it’s the first time we’ve had red flesh that we enjoy eating and that are really good,” Stennes said.
The company sampled those varieties along with a second yellow-skin, red-flesh apple that has not yet been named.
Chelan also spoke with booth goers about its rising organic volume, including solid growth in Honeycrisp, pink lady and fuji.
“The demand’s growing every year,” Stennes said.