Sustainability a key to Yes! Apples' success
New York grows more varieties of apples than any state in the country, and Yes! Apples is proud to represent more than 50 growers farming close to 5,000 acres of orchards across the state.
“We make apples our main priority,” said Kaari Stannard, president and CEO of the Glenmont, NY-based company. “We provide a 12-month assured supply via our domestic acreage, as well as through our partnerships with Canada and New Zealand.”
Although the consumer-friendly Yes! Apples brand was launched in 2019, the company has a long history.
“We’ve been in business as New York Apples Sales since 1992,” said Stannard, who bought the business from her stepfather in 1999.
As an organization comprised of New York-owned acreage and growers throughout all of the state, the company has decades-old relationships with its partners.
“We provide clear regular communication on markets so that our partners can make smart long-term decisions,” said Stannard. “We also give back to the industry through board appointments on the New York Apple Association, USApple, and the United Fresh Produce Association, so our collective voices are heard.”
Sustainability is an important focus for the company and its sustainability program is multi-faceted.
For instance, Yes! Apples participates in the 1% for the Planet global movement through an annual membership, whereby it donates 1 percent of proceeds from selected sales (such as its new Sustainable Forestry Initiative-certified Costco boxes) to organizations the company is interested in supporting. In 2021-22, the company is looking at building bee habitats/pollinator sanctuaries to repopulate native bee species.
The company also continues to work with the National Young Farmers Coalition through financial and volunteer support. Yes! Apples is a Seed Sower Sponsor for the NYFC Annual Leadership Convergence.
Yes! Apples also helps promote and spread the word about the Cornell Small Farms Program and its 2022 Futuro Financiero course.
“We also hold roundtable discussions with growers to gain their perspectives regarding the program’s success and room for growth,” Stannard said. “In addition, we sponsor the Latino Award, which is given to an outstanding grower/producer in New York state.”
Since the company does not have much exposure to food service, focusing on retail sales, business was not largely impacted by the pandemic.
“Throughout the COVID -19 pandemic, we’ve been fortunate to have an amazing healthy product that is in demand by consumers,” Stannard said.
“Apples truly are the absolute best for being on the go. As consumers have focused more and more on outdoor activities, we have met their needs and gone with them.”
With the explosion of club varieties, the company has seen its offering of apples change dramatically over the years. Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji continue to dominate. In addition, Yes! Apples has seen good incremental growth for its clubs like Snapdragon, Sweetango, Evercrisp, RubyFrost and Koru. Pink Lady and Ambrosia are additional varieties that the company expects to grow in significant volume over the next few years.
To be successful, the company works to provide excellent service, deliver on its commitments, and look to the future to supply its partners and meet their demand for varietal changes and volume.
This year, Yes! Apples is planning for larger volume crops for its domestic, as well as imported, product.
“In addition, we’ve answered the huge demand for organic apples by importing organic Honeycrisp from New Zealand,” Stannard said.
“We hope that our nation will continue to work toward addressing COVID-19 so that once again, we can safely offer demos on our newer apples to expand trial by consumers.”