Envy apple has come out on top in a blind sensory test among U.S. consumers, according to brand owner T&G Global and marketing partner Oppy.
The results came as the companies were enjoying a hugely successful New Zealand import season, company representatives said.
At PMA Fresh Summit in California, FreshFruitPortal.com spoke with Cecilia Flores Paez, global brand portfolio manager at T&G, Oppy's New Zealand-headquartered partner company.
Flores explained that the sensory research conducted earlier this year asked consumers to rate different varieties' taste, crunch, appearance and overall perception in the mouth.
"And we came out on top," she said. "We compared versus Honeycrisp, Cosmic Crisp, Gala, Fuji, Ambrosia, and we were very happy with the results because it's a validation of the product's superiority that we know we can achieve.”
The research indicated that shoppers have a high purchase intention and are willing to pay more for Envy versus other apples, she added.
"That gives a lot of support to go back to retailers and say: 'Your shoppers want Envy, they are willing to pay the premium because it’s a really good product, so let's work together on driving category growth and make sure it is available on shelf and promoted effectively," she said.
"We know when shoppers try Envy they love it and are willing to come back for more. Envy drives repeat purchases."
Oppy has been working closely with retailers and has garnered a good understanding of how to create effective promotions, she said.
"We are really focusing our attention on customer-specific promotions and retail activations," she said.
Roger Aguirre, Oppy's director of apples and pears, added that Envy apples have been performing very well in the U.S. market over recent years, with strong growth expected for years to come.
"We've had one of our most successful New Zealand import seasons on Envy this last year," he said. "We've had amazing distribution; more and more retailers are jumping on board in a bigger way.
"Before they had it as a subset of their apple department and they're all in now. Already, we've just had the last couple of days of packing Washington Envy and all that fruit is already gone. We just can’t keep up."
Commenting on the 2019-20 North American Envy season, Aguirre said that although Washington state has received some cold and wet weather recently, expectations are high for the coming months.
Oppy has worked closely with T&G to make sure a "very solidified" plan was in place.
"Growers have invested heavily in the program so we want to perform for them," he said.
"It's going to be another phenomenal year. We are in a very crowded marketplace but Envy™ is holding its own and it's actually outperforming so many of the other varieties. We really are in for a winning season."
This is the first year that Envy has had a year-round supply, Aguirre said. He highlighted that all fruit was grown under the same standards regardless of the region.
There has also been a "sizable increase" in the Envy organic offering as total global volumes continue to grow.
"Envy is right in the wheelhouse of most of the consumers," he said. "We're going to see continued growth throughout the year. There is a growth plan for all continents that we grow it on."
"The nice thing is that T&G is making sure it's very well thought out. We have to provide focus for not just this season - we're looking out 10, 20 years ahead."