Episode 185: Vince Lopes, Chris Willett, and Cecilia Flores Paez
Oct 20, 2021
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While there are a hefty amount of different apple varieties available on the market right now, many are being taken out due to lack of consumer preference. This gives companies like T&G the opportunity to create new variations on an old favorite. At the forefront of the Envy and Jazz apples, T&G is looking to make them stand out above the rest.
If you’ve been an avid listener to The Produce Moms, this won’t be the first time you’ve heard managed varieties in produce. You’ll also know the time and effort that goes into bringing them to the market from planting the first tree, to hitting grocery shelves. The Envy apple, which is a cross between a Gala and a Braeburn apple, hit the market in 2008 but took nearly a decade to come to fruition. Other variations can even take longer.
Envy, and its sister the Jazz apple, both hold up well and last longer in transit and on retail shelves. Envy, itself, has certain characteristics that allow consumers to cut them up even up to an hour before eating without worrying about browning. While these features are thanks to natural cross-pollination, they wouldn’t have been possible if not for the evolution of the apple category.
Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at T&G Global North America Vince Lopes states that we’re starting to see less and less of older varieties becaused new managed ones are becoming more and more versatile. For example, their Jazz apple has a balance between sweet and tart, while the Envy has a specific aroma and texture you can sink into with every bite. As such, both have an expansive versatility in usage whether it’s in baking, cooking, or simply eating them raw.
These managed varieties are booming in popularity with over 60 trying to get on grocery shelves. In reality, any given retailer only holds about six. When making a specific branded variety, companies like T&G have to give consumers something to remember so that when they see it at the store, they buy it.
Vice President of Sales and Operations at T&G Global North America Chris Willett states that what’s unique about their branded varieties is that they have complete control from the fields to the retailer. Unlike Golden or Red Delicious apples that can be grown anywhere, by anyone, T&G have certain standards with their growers.
T&G has also been working on advanced technologies when it comes to picking and packing. Some of their newer systems can see into fruits in the packaging line to point out imperfections. Others include drones that can fly over orchards for crop management and most recently they began using a machine that blows leaves off of trees therefore exposing the fruit to more sunlight for better color.
Head of Marketing for T&G Global North America, Cecilia Flores Paez is proud that T&G has gained notoriety with their Envy and Jazz apples. as of late. With a campaign partnership with Hallmark Channel, T&G recently won a Produce Marketing Excellence award for delivering a breakthrough campaign that made a difference during COVID-19 during the 2020 holidays. During the campaign, they worked on helping families celebrate the holidays with unique, new and delicious recipes that were named for Hallmark Channel holiday films. The Envy apple was also recently named “Best in Produce” by Kitchn – a food and lifestyle media outlet that debates for weeks to select and name the best grocery items to try in America right now.
Being grown in both the United States and New Zealand, T&G is able to provide the Envy apple year round at most national and regional retailers. Jazz, on the other hand, is an heirloom variety and can be harder to find, but worth it when you do.
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Previous episodes you may enjoy
- Episode 184: Lindsey Occhipinti and Ana Mejia
- Episode 183: Jennifer Parkhill
- Episode 182: Lee Holden
- Episode 181: Lisa Helfman
- Episode 180: Katie Hotze