This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Apple Growers Add Sweeter Fruit to Jolt Sales

ST. PAUL, Minn. ( TheStreet) - Food companies like Kraft Foods (KFT) and General Mills (GIS - Get Report) are always hunting for new ways to tempt the palates of fickle Americans. Local apple growers face the same challenge.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting a massive apple crop of 241 million boxes (the 37- to 40-pound unit of measure formerly known as bushels). That's up from 233 million last year and the 229 million average for the past five years, but it means little if consumers won't buy or eat them.

High volume and competition from China have contributed to a 34% drop in apple prices during the past year, according to the USDA. Apples had the second-biggest decline among major fruits and vegetables produced in the U.S., behind lettuce's 46% decrease.

Growers are trying to jolt sales by branching out from their top sellers, Red and Golden Delicious. Those breeds comprise 36% of the industry's harvest, down from 60% in 1996. Instead, producers have been introducing sweeter varieties with catchier names.

"Consumers have moved away from their dependence on the Red Delicious in the grocer's aisle and into more sweet Empire or a tart McIntosh or Cortland," says Mark Nicholson of Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, N.Y. His 51-year-old farm has boosted sales by supplying apple juice to Whole Foods Market (WFMI).

James Luby, director of the fruit breeding program at the University of Minnesota, has been playing matchmaker for apple varieties since 1982 and was part of the team behind the popular Honeycrisp varietal. Sometimes his cross-pollination produces hits like this year's SweeTango, which took 15 years to develop. Sometimes it creates a flavor more akin to gasoline.

1 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
GIS $56.09 0.00%
MON $116.70 0.00%
AAPL $124.75 0.00%
FB $80.78 0.00%
GOOG $524.05 0.00%

Markets

DOW 17,826.30 -279.47 -1.54%
S&P 500 2,081.18 -23.81 -1.13%
NASDAQ 4,931.8150 -75.9760 -1.52%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs