Jun 13, 2018
Crunch Time Apple closes sales season for managed varieties

Wolcott,  New York-based Crunch Time Apple Growers reports SnapDragon apples realized a 38 percent increase in sales at the end of first quarter 2018 over prior year and a 58 percent increase in sales for RubyFrost apples at the end of 2nd quarter 2018.

Rena Montedoro, director of marketing for Crunch Time Apple Growers (CTAG) said despite “a very crowded season in the apple category” CTAG realized a positive increase in sales. RubyFrost and SnapDragon saw success in large retailers like Trader Joe’s, Acme, Hannaford, Sprouts and Costco as well as premier New York chains like Price Chopper and Wegmans. CTAG also expanded distribution adding several new retailers in key markets including HEB in Texas and Roundy’s in Wisconsin. Montedoro said promotions, a superior group of shippers and top retailers who have embraced and supported the varieties have all contributed to a successful year.

“We are very fortunate to work with an amazing group of shippers and packers who have positioned these apples with important large retailers as well as boutique and independent markets who reach our niche consumer,” Montedoro said. CTAG sells their varieties through six New York shippers; Apple Acres, Fowler Farms, Hudson River Fruit Distributors, New York Apple Sales, Niagara Fresh, and United Apple Sales. The varieties are also sold by Hess Brother’s Fruit out of Pennsylvania and CTAG recently added Belle Harvest located in Michigan to their group of shippers.

Montedoro said that adding consumer-focused marketing which included online promotions and in-store sampling programs along with contests and live events to a traditional mix of trade advertising grew market share.

“We increased our direct consumer marketing by 75 percent in 2017 over years prior.” Montedoro said. The efforts paid off with social media engagement increasing from just 15 average monthly views in 2017 to over 780,000 impressions for the season across mixed channels in 2017-2018. Promotions like SnapDragon’s Seek the Snap, Pack a Snap-Win A Schwinn and RubyFrost’s Baker’s Little Helper resulted in robust online consumer engagement leading to more apples in consumer’s fruit crisper drawers across the country.

“All the marketing in the world cannot make up for a bad tasting apple,” Montedoro said. “When you bite into a Crunch Time Apple you are tasting not just an incredible apple but the love and labor of 145 family farmers. Our apples are not grown on arid corporate farms. They are grown by family farmers – some going back six and seven generations.”

Montedoro said CTAG farmers are dedicated to caring for the land they farm, employing responsible and sustainable farming methods that deliver the highest quality, healthiest apples. “Big corporate farms may bear loads of volume and cheaper apples – but not better tasting fruit” she said, adding, “our consumers can taste the difference. It’s in the fracture of that first bite, as well as the color of our apples and the juiciness.”

 CTAG is anticipating a good crop for the 2018/2019 season. Mark Russell, CTAG’s marketing chair who has been with the group since the apples first came on the market said he is not surprised they are so popular with apple lovers.

“These apples have incredible consumer and retail demand, and we look forward to continuing that momentum next season as our trees are delivering more volume,” he said. With over 600,000 mature SnapDragon trees and 400,000 mature RubyFrost trees, CTAG is poised to increase production by 75 percent in 2018. 

SnapDragon and RubyFrost apples are patented and trademarked managed apple varieties developed by Susan Brown of Cornell University. The apples are marketed exclusively by Crunch Time Apple Growers (CTAG). CTAG is a group of 145 apple growers across New York state dedicated to producing the highest quality, most flavorful and innovative apples on the market. RubyFrost made a successful debut in 2014. SnapDragon officially launched in 2015, and is a descendent of the Honeycrisp variety. For more information, visit CrunchTimeAppleGrowers.com, SnapDragonApple.com and RubyFrostApple.com or contact CTAG’s Director of Marketing, Rena Montedoro at [email protected].

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