04 October 2019

Why Honeycrisp apples are more expensive than other varieties


This is the best time of year to enjoy apples - Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Red Delicious, and the local favorite Honeycrisp (which were developed at the University of Minnesota).  An article in the StarTribune explained why they are more expensive than other apples:
The simple answer to the apple’s high price lies in its prickly, finicky nature. “It’s one of the most difficult apples to grow,” said Mark Seetin, director of Regulatory and Industry Affairs at the U.S. Apple Association in Virginia. “It tends to like to bear fruit every other year and to achieve annual production requires significant additional labor.”

Its thin skin creates a delectable crunch that fans love but growers curse. Most apples produce a “pack out” rate of 80 to 90%, indicating that nearly 90% of the harvested crop can be sold as fresh. But Honeycrisp’s pack out rate is between 60 and 65%. “That means that 35% of your crop is going as juice,” Bedford said. “And juice only captures one-tenth the value of a fresh apple.”

Labor costs for Honeycrisp are higher than other apples because it’s one of the only apples that has to have its stem clipped so it doesn’t puncture the skin of neighboring apples when packed. “Apples pickers are used to picking with two hands, but with Honeycrisp you have to pick with one hand and clip with the other,” Bedford said. “With more labor costs and a 60% pack out, you have to charge more.”
So yesterday at Target I paid more attention to the details.  The close-cut stem of the Honeycrisp -


- versus the standard-length stem of a Granny Smith:


You learn something every day.

4 comments:

  1. I do learn something everyday, often because of your blog. Giant squirrels, apple marketing, auto-brewery syndrome.

    Slightly less ignorant thanks to Ty.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A bit of a topic drift, but connected by produce department product signs

    https://skeetmotis.blogspot.com/2019/10/sign-of-tomatoes.html Sign of the tomatoes

    ReplyDelete
  3. Other difficulties growing Honeycrisp:

    "“The first challenge is controlling its vigor,” said Brenda Briggs of Rice Fruit Co., which has been selling apples out of Adams County, Pennsylvania, for more than 100 years. Growers, she explains, have to train the trees so that their branches don’t get too tall too fast, with leaves that block the sunlight from the apples below.

    The fruit is also vulnerable to bitter pit—small, sunken brown spots that sully an otherwise perfect orb. The flaw is a result of the trees’ inability to properly take up calcium from the soil. Growers are forced to spray their orchards with foliar calcium to boost their intake, but it’s not always enough.

    ... The thin skin that makes those first bites so juicy is also very delicate and easily sunburned. Birds love Honeycrisps more than other apples, forcing growers to buy and install netting to keep them away.

    Even if a producer manages to grow a decent crop of Honeycrisps, harvesting and storage come with additional hurdles. The variety is so delicate that the stems have to be clipped off so the apples don’t tear each other. And while other apples can go right from tree to cold storage, Honeycrisps must first spend 5-10 days being “tempered” at a mild temperature before they can be refrigerated."

    ReplyDelete
  4. debuting this fall is WA38, aka 'cosmic crisp' - an apple developed for taste, color, texture, storability, and to be grown in the washington state climate. one of many articles about this new apple and its development: https://story.californiasunday.com/cosmic-crisp-apple-launch

    your posting make me wonder how much CC will cost.

    I-)

    ReplyDelete

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