Eric Borton Talks Borton Fruit's Apple and Pear Seasons; Promoting KORU® and ROCKIT™ Varieties
YAKIMA, WA – As apple growers across the nation begin to pack and ship their best varieties, Borton Fruit has its own volume-filled selections it’s bringing to market, including two new varieties to tap in on further retail opportunities.
Eric Borton, VP of International Sales & Marketing, says that the company is running around ten days early for all of its varieties, with harvest already underway for its Gala apples, and Bartlett and Anjou pears.
“The first picking of Honeycrisp will be starting this week, with Golden Delicious and early Fuji right around the corner,” Eric says of this year’s season. “This spring and summer we had ideal growing conditions, which is resulting in very good sizing, great color, and outstanding quality.”
Borton Fruit expects a very strong crop this year, with volume on par to last year’s crop. Eric says the company is planning to use this early production to maximize apple sales at store level.
“We will be able to get new crop fruit into the pipeline and in the hands of consumers early, setting the trend for a strong push here in the first part of the season and the ability to jump right into promotions earlier than normal.”
Borton Fruit is seeing exceptional quality and sizing with the newly begun season, which will provide the company with a great opportunity to start the season strong.
The company’s Honeycrisp crop, Eric divulges, is one of the highlights for Borton Fruit this year in the midst of increased production of the variety throughout the industry. Borton expects a strong projected crop ahead with its ranches currently in their peak prime maturity.
“We were a very early adopter of the Honeycrisp variety, which means a significant portion of our orchards that were planted 10-15 years ago are now in their prime,” Eric says. “This is important because the Honeycrisp variety really hits its peak quality after four to eight years of growth. A lot of production, industry-wide, is in very young orchards, so we really distinguish ourselves with the quality and consistency of our crop.”
In addition to increased consumer demand for Honeycrisp, Eric says that the Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady varieties are continuing their upward trends into buy-side baskets. Borton Fruit is answering this call to apples with continued investments into growing the best strains to maximize quality and color for the variety.
So where is Borton Fruit headed next? Continued focus on bringing its two new varieties to market, the KORU® & ROCKIT™ apples. Originating in New Zealand, Eric says that the company is proud to grow the varieties domestically, and offer retailers imported product during the summer from Borton Fruit’s grower partners in New Zealand, to eventually reach year-round supply.
Eric says that KORU® was a uniquely discovered variety, known as a chance seedling, and not bred like most others. Boasting a fine texture, excellent pressure and flavor, with great crispness, Borton Fruit is excited to tap in on the potential of the variety.
“We have had a very successful import season this summer, with really positive consumer feedback and retail excitement over the variety,” Eric expands. “Borton Fruit will have modest domestic production this year, with big increases in volume in the coming three to five years.”
Borton Fruit has partnered with Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers and New York Apple Sales in the Coast 2 Coast Grower Cooperative in a commitment to the success of the variety.
The company is looking to tap in on a new segment of consumer demand with the ROCKIT™ variety, by offering the apple as a perfect option for snacking, kids, or “on the go” nutrition. The ROCKIT™ variety is packaged in vertical, clear recyclable tubes to match the potential of the new retail segment.
“These small and sweet apples are extremely flavorful for their small size,” Eric says. “When you compare ROCKIT™ to a small piece of fruit of any other variety, they don’t come close to the same eating experience of ROCKIT™.”
Partnered with Chelan Fresh, the companies are developing specialized orchards in Washington to maximize offerings of the variety, and what Eric sees as a promising future.
As the Northwest region ramps up for a season filled with high consumer demand for apples, AndNowUKnow will continue to have your handpicked selection of industry-wide news and announcements.