New Zealand Plumac apple harvest "all sold already"

Publication date: 3/31/2016
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The new Plumac apple variety is set for a strong second season in New Zealand, with both production and demand on the rise. Licensed exclusively by McGrath Nurseries and sold under the KORU® brand name, this variety has already become a popular premium option for consumers around the world.
“We’re about to start harvest in New Zealand, and it’s all sold already,” the company’s director, Andy McGrath, says.
“We’ve got 85% of the crop going to the US, which is all pre-committed to three marketers – Oneonta, Borton Fruit and New York Apple Sales and Exports. Then the other 15% is going to Asia.”
He says it’s yet to be determined where in Asia the KORU® apples will go, with price the biggest factor.
“It’s dependent on price, but definitely Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are targets for market development. There are already single point-of-entry marketers in all three countries; in Thailand there’s RD8, in Vietnam there’s River Farms and in Japan it’s DM Palmer.”
Production – both in New Zealand and the USA – is also increasing, with both new and current growers eager to get more Plumac trees in the ground.
“We’re adding a couple of new growers every year, but the biggest growth is in original growers coming back to get more from our nursery,” Mr McGrath says.
Hawkes Bay apple grower Robert Sykes says his company, Orchard Investments Limited, has taken a strong position with the variety and will continue to do so.

KORU Rob Sykes and workers“We’re just starting to harvest KORU®, and the apples look stunning,” he says.
“It’s only our second crop, but we’re taking a strong position with variety. We like the story and I think it’s an apple that is going to have real global apple, particularly once it’s got a bit more critical mass.”
Mr Sykes says Orchard Investments Limited currently have 10 hectares of the variety, “which is modest, but we’re taking a strong positing and we will be planting more.”
Mr McGrath says the new season is looking good for many of the growers in New Zealand.
“They’re looking great. Good size, and really good colour that’s just come on. We had some cold weather over the past week and the colour’s really come up since then,” he says, adding that volumes are also up on last year’s harvest. 
“We did lose quite a lot to hail in the Nelson area towards the end of last year, but Hawkes Bay where I am now is looking great. I think we’ll get between 75,000 and 90,000 cartons for the season – and that figure will be 230,000 by 2020 based on current plantings.”

KORU 1 resizeThe story of the Plumac apple variety starts with orchardist Geoff Plunkett, who discovered a chance seedling that had sprouted from a discarded Fuji apple core in his garden Nelson in 1998. The fruit from that seedling showed impressive qualities, and after several years of testing, commercialisation began through McGrath Nurseries.
The name itself – Plumac – is a combination of Plunkett and McGrath, and celebrates the “home grown” origins of the variety.
Mr McGrath says it’s done extremely well around the world, particularly in the USA.
“America can swallow it up at very high values, they want everything that we’re growing at the moment. They love it, and the Japanese love it too,” he says.
“Lot of apples get sent out to Japan, and KORU® came out on top as the favourite.”
He says it also handles the export process to Japan better than many other varieties sent from New Zealand.
“It’s a really hard process and really expensive. Once the apples are picked they have to be fumigated, then you have to leave them for 28 days and then they get shipped over. That takes three to four weeks and you have to use expensive boxes that have individual insect proof screens so the fruit can be visually checked throughout the process,” he says.
KORU packed“Most apple varieties can’t handle this protocol, but KORU® does it well.”
As well as storing incredibly well, the Plumac variety is building up a strong reputation for its high productivity, large fruit size, colour and crisp, aromatic, honey-like flavour.

“It’s a great product and it’s selling really well in a lot of places, with more markets in development all the time,” Mr McGrath says.