Crunch Time Apple Growers' Jessica Wells Details Distribution Partner Expansion and Shopping Trends
LOCKPORT, NY - Our fresh produce industry is a resilient and adaptive one. As we continue to face supply chain disruptions and inflation, suppliers like Crunch Time Apple Growers are relying on their strengths to bring what the buy-side and consumers are looking for: fresh, delicious apples. I got in touch with Jessica Wells, Executive Director, to see how Crunch Time jumps to the occasion and delivers in light of the turbulent times.
“We’re fortunate to have a strong distribution network that can effectively and efficiently deliver SnapDragon® and RubyFrost® apples up and down the East Coast. At the beginning of this season, we added three new distribution partners, bringing our total to 11 and allowing us to expand our geographic reach, particularly in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic,” Jessica enlightens me. “These new partners have helped us to deliver the same great product and experience to our new and existing retailers.”
Transportation and logistics continue to pose consistent challenges across the industry, and factors such as the cost of doing business have gone up dramatically in the last two years as well, with labor and packaging costs increasing on the post-harvest side. Crunch Time’s growers are also seeing increased costs associated with labor, fuel, and crop inputs. While none of this has affected supply, it’s important, Jessica notes, that apple pricing across the board helps growers, packers, and shippers absorb these costs.
Luckily, fresh produce is still in high demand, and trends show consumers have adapted over the past few years. Some new habits shoppers have exhibited are packaging preferences.
“Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a shift to bagged fruit from bulk fruit, which means demand for smaller fruit to fill the bags is high,” Jessica notes. “In response, shippers and retailers are getting creative with packaging, offering larger bag sizes and different pack styles in which larger fruit can be used. Lately, we’ve noted the vast majority of our top customers have experienced double-digit growth in the volume of SnapDragon sold compared to a year ago. As a brand, we are tremendously excited by this growth and see it as a great opportunity for new retailers across the country to bring this variety to their customers.”
Both varieties are available to ship now, with trucks regularly going as far west as Missouri, Texas, and Utah. Crunch Time's shipping partners all offer a suite of apple varieties, making it convenient to put together a full truckload of apples to accompany SnapDragon and RubyFrost on store shelves.
To help more consumers experience the Monster Crunch of SnapDragon, Crunch Time recently launched a fundraising program to offer 9 lb boxes of the variety to school groups, churches, sports teams, and community organizations to sell within their communities. The program is ongoing and is structured such that the groups should make a great profit while offering a new and healthy alternative to other fundraisers.
AndNowUKnow will keep an eye on the changing landscape, so stay tuned as we report.