Crunch Time Apple Growers expects stellar season for SnapDragon apples
Crunch Time Apple Growers’ history is a somewhat short one, with the company having formed in 2010 by a group of New York growers intent on working with Cornell to bring to market exciting new Cornell-developed apple varieties.
“SnapDragon and RubyFrost apples were bred in New York at Cornell University with the New York climate in mind,” said Jessica Wells, executive director of the Lockport, NY-based company. “While we have, and will continue to explore partnerships outside of New York State in order to best serve our retail partners, Crunch Time Apple Growers will continue to be a New York company.”
As of June 1, RubyFrost apples are still available to retailers and are expected to be for another 30-45 days. “They make a great addition to summer produce displays, offering customers something for their charcuterie boards, summer salads, baking recipes and lunchboxes,” Wells said. “SnapDragon apples will be available again starting in late-September as soon as the new crop is ready.”
The 2021 SnapDragon crop sold out after a stellar season, and that sell out happened more than a month ahead of last season, with total volume up by about 20 percent and prices up an average of 13 percent over last year.
“Consumers really love SnapDragon apples, and our retailer partners are keeping them in stores all season in order to meet consumer demand,” Wells said. “As more acreage comes into full production, we will be working with our current retailers to expand SnapDragon and RubyFrost availability and working with new retailers to bring SnapDragon and RubyFrost to their customers.”
This year’s crop looks great as of now, Wells said, noting there was a quick warm blossom, which led to great fruit-set across much of the state. “Provided the season progresses without incident, we should see an increase in volume similar to what we saw last year,” she said.
In 2021, the majority of the company’s growth was the result of its existing retailer partners moving a larger volume compared to previous seasons. “The interesting thing is that while volume was up overall due to the apples being stocked on shelves longer, month-over-month volume was also up,” Wells said. “I’m not sure there’s one secret to strong partnerships — but seamless customer service is integral to a strong partnership. We aim to provide the best service to our retailers and to SnapDragon and RubyFrost consumers.”
At the retail level, Crunch Time looks to make sure the retailer has everything they need to make SnapDragon and RubyFrost successful in their store including consistent and high-quality apples and the necessary display and marketing support. At the consumer level, if there happens to be an issue — whether it be a customer just not liking the flavor, or some sort of a quality issue — the company works to resolve that issue as quickly as possible.
In 2022, the company expects much of the same in terms of product mix and shopper trends. “We do, however, expect sampling to return to stores and a more hands-on approach to marketing our fruit to be possible,” Wells said. “At the same time, we expect that shoppers will continue to use online ordering and delivery to purchase groceries.”