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Next Big Thing anticipating strong SweeTango season

By
Keith Loria

Next Big Thing, a cooperative of dedicated growers at orchards from Nova Scotia to Washington state, was formed to research and promote new apple varieties in 2006.

SweeTango was our first managed variety and we continue to look for additional varieties to promote,” said Jennifer Parkhill, executive director of Next Big Thing. “SweeTango’s success hinges on our growers’ commitment to a common goal — producing a superior apple.”

Developed by the University of Minnesota and first introduced in 2009, the SweeTango is a premium apple variety that combines the Honeycrisp and Zestar! apple varieties.

Next Big Thing ensures that SweeTango apples are only produced by licensed growers using the highest quality sites and growing practices.  

“The apple category has gotten very crowded over the past few years,” Parkhill said. “Retailers have limited real estate on shelves, and you have to be the best in taste to have staying power and super fans who ask for the apple. We try and keep our marketing efforts consistent. SweeTango are available from September to March domestically and occasionally we have import SweeTango available in select areas until June.”

It was a very good season last year for the SweeTango, though there were some weather events that caused some crop loss in the Midwest.

“We are looking forward to a great crop this year,” Parkhill said. “The year before was great as well and eat-from-home sales helped apples remain on the shopping list. Because they are a healthy choice, apples are always a great item to promote.”

While once again, the latest crops have had some small weather events, everyone expects the crop to be larger than last year.

“The taste of the SweeTango is amazing and keeps consumers coming back for more,” Parkhill said. “We will continue to expand into additional areas of the U.S. and Canada.”

Next Big Thing believes that with the additional number of SweeTango that will be available this season that the variety will remain a leading variety of apples this season.

“We are looking to get SweeTango in additional markets in the U.S., and expanding our availability,” Parkhill said. “SweeTango remains a leading variety and one that retailers should choose because of the great quality. SweeTango will sell out and is highly recognized in retail.”

One of the best ways to improve sales, she said, is with further consumer education.

“We find that with the variety of apples that are available, consumers are confused,” Parkhill said. “It would be great for retail providers to help to educate consumers about what consumers should expect with each of the different varieties.”

The growers involved are facing many of the same challenges that are plaguing the industry, including costs of freight and labor, but those aren’t the only challenges those in the cooperative are dealing with.

“There are so many varieties on the market,” Parkhill said. “Real estate on the retail floor is limited and additional varieties are released every year.”

Next Big Thing’s growers have been working hard to bring additional supplies of SweeTango to markets in 2022.

“We have a new variety that is on the horizon and should be released next year,” Parkhill said. “It is a red-fleshed apple developed in France called Kissabel. It will be different than what consumers have seen. We are looking forward to bringing additional varieties in the years to come.”

 

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