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Michigan grows valuable apple varieties consumers want

LANSING, Mich. — Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji are the top three selling varieties in the United States, based on dollars earned, according to 2015 data from Nielsen Perishables Group. Gala apples earned more than $652 million for the nation’s apple industry in 2015, the highest earning variety in the U.S. Honeycrisp saw an increase of 17.3 percent in earnings and Fuji apples came in at number three, ahead of Red Delicious.

The apple category report for 2015 was prepared by Nielsen Perishables Group for the Michigan Apple Committee and includes measures of movement, pricing and distribution.

“The report shows what we already believed was true, that Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji are valuable varieties that consumers seek in the marketplace,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “Michigan produces these high-quality, flavorful apple varieties that consumers want.”

The Michigan Apple Committee continued its consumer research in November 2015 with 3consumer focus groups in Michigan and Illinois. In the focus groups, blind taste tests are performed in addition to collection of feedback about appearance of the apples. Michigan-grown Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji and Jonagold continue to come out at the top of the list in regards to flavor and appearance.

“Over the last eight years, we have worked with an independent consultant to conduct taste panels and focus groups in Michigan and the Chicago suburbs. The results consistently show that the flavor of Michigan-grown Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji and Jonagold is preferred by consumers over those same varieties grown in other places. Geography, climate, soil, and of course, our dedicated growers, position our state uniquely to produce preferred flavor and quality,” said Smith.

With the majority of Michigan’s apple growing region located along the coast of Lake Michigan, it is clear that proximity to the Great Lakes makes a difference in producing high-quality, flavorful apples. Michigan is sheltered by the Great Lakes, and they also provide cool nights, warm sunny days, and plenty of moisture, which are all factors in producing healthy, flavorful apples.

Even cold winters play an important role, keeping the trees dormant, resting to preserve energy to grow future crops, and protecting them from potential damage. But climate is only part of the equation. Soil is also a key factor in apple production. Soil that is not too heavy with just the right mix of nutrients keep the trees healthy across their lifespan.

 The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit www.MichiganApples.com.