Jan 9, 2018Retail debut of EverCrisp earning ‘early fans’
EverCrisp is enjoying a successful commercial debut according to a news release from its developer, the Midwest Apple Improvement Association (MAIA).
EverCrisp, known to growers as MAIA-1, debuted in limited supply in late 2016 at growers’ farm stands primarily in the Midwest and Northeast. In November 2017, it hit select grocers’ shelves.
MAIA quoted growers and retailers in a news release about how the new variety is “establishing a foundation of early fans.”
“EverCrisp apples have all the characteristics that customers are looking for in a new apple. Customers love them and they’re coming back for more,” said Vinnie Latessa, director of produce for Heinen’s Grocery Store, which has 23 locations between Cleveland and Chicago.
Latessa said EverCrisp fits the retailer’s renowned local produce program that features about a dozen Ohio apples. “We’re featuring EverCrisp as a late season apple. Even with a later start, EverCrisp is rivaling sales of Honeycrisp. It’s a close second in our lineup of apples from a sales and volume standpoint.”
The managed apple variety – known as variety MAIA-1 to breeders and growers – is a cross of Honeycrisp and Fuji. There are 350 orchards growing EverCrisp apples in 32 states and the apples are marketed under strict quality control regulations. The largest number of growers are concentrated in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and New York, but EverCrisp apples are also expanding nationwide, MAIA said.
In Washington’s premier apple growing region, Gus Heinicke, an orchard manager for Columbia Fruit Packers, started with a small plot of 10 MAIA-1 trees about four years ago. “I’m really excited about EverCrisp,” Heinicke said. “The fruit on our older trees was outstanding this year.”
While it will be three or four years before Columbia Fruit Packers has enough volume, he said EverCrisp will be a distinctive addition to the company’s variety mix offered to retailers. “I’m planting more acres so we can move forward with EverCrisp.”
Growers capitalize on EverCrisp for farm markets and u-pick
Depending on the region, EverCrisp apples are typically harvested in October through November. Garwood Orchards in LaPort, Indiana, positions EverCrisp apples to be the successor to Honeycrisp’s picking season.
“EverCrisp is a great apple for us as it continues to bring people to the orchard. Once customers try one, they pick only EverCrisp,” said orchard owner Brian Garwood. Orchards and farm markets, like Garwood Orchards which draws crowds from Chicago and South Bend metro areas, provide wide customer exposure for new varieties, often fueling retailer adoption.
Durability and storability
Grower Dave Rennhack of Rennhack Orchards Market in Hart, Michigan, applauds the apple’s firmness and storability.
“The apple eats even better after a few months of storage,” he said. “The flavor mellows out a bit and the coloration turns from an underlying green cast to pineapple gold, making it very appealing.” Rennhack plans to offer EverCrisp when the farm market reopens in the spring.
Latessa concurred with Rennhack. “While people are blown away by the snap of the apple, that same quality makes it a durable apple for handlers and retailers. It will be great if our supply lasts through February.”
The Midwest Apple Improvement Association (MAIA) was formed in the mid-1990s with the goal of developing apple varieties to suit the climate and challenges faced by growers in the Midwest. Today, there are more than 450 members across the United States, Canada and internationally.
The group has bred, grown, harvested and evaluated more than 50,000 seedlings to date, but the MAIA-1 apple variety, marketed as EverCrisp, is the first variety to arrive on the market.
For more information, visit EverCrispApple.com.
Above: MAIA President Bill Dodd examines an EverCrisp apple on the tree. Photos: MAIA