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The Hype Surrounding New Springtime Apple

Sweet and tart WildTwist variety developed by Hess Brother’s Fruit
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Grocers should partner with merchandising and category management teams to set up informative displays in the produce area that highlight the benefits of produce like the new WildTwist apple variety.

In the quest to find the next great apple, the new WildTwist apple variety has been a project for Pennsylvania-based Hess Brother’s Fruit Co. for more than a decade. Second-generation company leaders Fred and Jerry Hess began developing the variety in 2011, and the current generation has carried their vision forward.

Described as a new twist on two favorites, the WildTwist apple is a blend of the Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink varieties. The result is a sweet apple with a hint of tartness and a juicy crunch. It will be available in the spring.

[Read more: “Vertical-Farming Company Elevates Flavor of Strawberries”]

“Our goal was to give apple lovers a great eating experience at a time of year when they may not expect it,” said Ryan Hess, owner of Hess Brother’s Fruit. “We set out to grow an apple that tastes better and lasts longer, and we’ve done that with WildTwist.”

Having WildTwist apples available in the spring sets them apart from varieties that are traditionally associated with fall. The new variety is typically sold from January through June. However, due to its rapid rise in popularity, this year’s supply is projected to sell out early. “The seasonality makes these apples a bit more special,” noted Chris Sandwick, director of marketing at Hess Brother’s Fruit. “Once customers discover them, they come back for more.”

The company points out that WildTwist is ideal for customers looking for healthier snack options. “For people to reach for an apple instead of processed, unhealthy snacks, it has to deliver an exceptional eating experience — and that’s exactly what they’ll get with WildTwist,” said Sandwick. “It’s healthy, it’s easy and, above all, it’s delicious.”

To help foster customers’ health (and improve sales lift), Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, registered dietitian coordinator for The Little Clinic and Kroger, recommends partnering with merchandising and category management teams to set up informative displays in the produce area that highlight the benefits of produce. She also suggests inviting retail dietitians to coordinate cooking demos that draw attention to fruits through attractive main dishes or sides. 

Hess Brother’s Fruit Co. has been supplying eastern apples since 1967. Founded by brothers Arthur and Edward Hess, the Lancaster, Pa.-based company is currently in its third generation of family ownership and markets an average of 2 million bushels of apples every year. Hess Brother’s Fruit works with grower-partners in Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia to produce the WildTwist apple commercially. More than 400 acres of WildTwist are planted across dozens of eastern U.S. farms.

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