Cosmic Crisp Could Send Apple Industry Soaring

The parade of new apple names already in the nation’s supermarkets is indeed a long one. There’s Envy, Ambrosia, SnapDragon, SweeTango, Kiku, Smitten, RubyFrost, Kanzi and Junami brands, which doesn’t cover them all.

In fact, they are being joined by about 80 newer apples arriving from world production areas this year alone. 

Looking ahead, say, three or four years, from Washington state there will be the supermarket arrival of Cosmic Crisp.

This apple with the out-of-this world name is generating huge notice in the Washington apple industry, and commercial planting won’t even start until next year.

That’s right — even though its first trees are yet to be planted, Cosmic Crisp has received tons of industry discussion and media coverage. And this is exposure even outside of traditional agricultural outlets, extending to urban broadcasts.

Why the urban coverage? Most likely the uniqueness of the name. The reason for the flood of attention in the Washington apple industry? The motivation is multifaceted.

Yes, the reasons are multiple, which illustrates that Comic Crisp isn’t just another new apple. Hopes are it may be the next Honeycrisp in popularity, but it also represents a completely new and innovative apple introduction system.

First there’s the apple itself. A cross between [Enterprise and Honeycrisp], it was developed by Washington State University tree fruit research going back nearly 20 years. 

Nothing happens fast in the apple biz!

Thanks to its parentage, Cosmic is described as large, having an excellent flavor profile, good texture and superior storage life. It’s slow to turn brown when cut.

Testing has also shown it to be grower friendly, which involves the difficulty of production facing the grower and percentage of fruit meeting the more lucrative fresh market standards.

 

A key part of this system is Proprietary Variety Management in Yakima. 

Instead of the often current practice of giving a new apple little support in the marketplace, PVM utilizes a program similar to that used to introduce products in the packaged goods industry.

This means it relies on its established marketing routines such as consumer research, a place where Cosmic Crisp was successfully taste-tested. Its name was also selected from a list of choices by the same respondents.

PVM has also been sure to emphasize a major role by the apple industry in several aspects of the Cosmic system. That meant the early establishment of a marketing advisory committee.

The advisory committee represents a dozen of the industry’s largest shipping companies. A subcommittee was also created to develop quality standards.

A lottery system was created to distribute the first 700,000 trees for planting in 2017, with trees available exclusively to Washington growers. 

Tree sales are now open to growers across the state, with two million projected for planting in 2018.

The first Cosmic Crisp won’t be available to consumers until 2020, most likely, and will be sharing the same harvest window as red delicious.

With the widespread attention going to this apple, along with red delicious being one showing its age against certain other newer apples on the market (Can you say “Honeycrisp?”), the buzz surrounding Cosmic Crisp will likely become even more pronounced as its baby trees become more adult.

Also crystal clear is that Cosmic Crisp has already risen above being just another new apple, something remarkable to accomplish before its first commercial roots are even planted.

No, in this case being Cosmic means more than just introducing a new apple, albeit one viewed as a very fine piece of fruit. In the end it quite likely means placing the traditional ways of an entire industry into a completely new orbit.

Article by Alan Taylor, The Packer

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