Strong apple season helps Fowler Farms move ahead
Fowler Farms is a regular face at the annual New York Produce Show, having been a participating exhibitor since its inception.
“We consider it an important show because we can showcase the value and quality of local apples,” said Austin Fowler, the co-owner of the Wolcott, NY-based company. “Most apple shippers have to make the 2,800-mile trip just like their fruit to get to the East Coast. We can deliver to the same population within hours.”
Apples are what Fowler Farms knows as well as anyone, and the company offers approximately 20 different varieties, as well as different types of ciders. Thankfully, the 2020 apple crop was what he called extraordinary.
“For us, we’ve seen some of the best-eating fruit that we’ve had in many, many years,” Fowler said. “Pretty much everything that has come off has been very satisfying for the consumer to come back and buy again, whereas last year, we had quite a bit of moisture early in the harvest, the fruit was juicy and crispy, but it wasn’t the same. This year is magical in some cases, like the SweeTango and varieties like that.”
He is happy that the New York Produce Show is continuing on this year, even though it has to be done virtually.
“At Fowler Farms, we put a great deal of effort into growing, packing and marketing apples that exceed consumer’s expectations,” Fowler said. “A produce trade show is a lot like a modern farmer’s market. It’s all about seeing and tasting what the farmer has to offer. Just like growing the apples, this isn’t a virtual process.”
But he understands that this year everyone has to make the best of the current situation. Fowler Farms took part in the virtual PMA Fresh Summit earlier this year, so it has expectations on what will happen and how it can still consider the event a success.
Fowler Farms is already thinking ahead to 2021 when it hopes to see a return to how things were and is planning its strategy accordingly.
“We’ll be investing in new packing lines and logistics infrastructure to support significant new orchard investments,” Fowler said.
For now, it’s reaping the rewards from such a strong harvest and a successful cider program.
“Most importantly, fruit flavor this season is one of the best,” Fowler said. “Reorders are exceptional, especially for the newer varieties like SweeTango and SnapDragon. I can’t remember a time that we have received so many positive comments from consumers. Compliments pile in daily from social media, our website, even letters in the mail. It’s rewarding to share the great feedback with our employees.”