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Turning Apples into Lemonade

Ralph Waldo Emerson was the first to say, “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.” For the Giumarra Companies team, greatness comes in the form of a new variety, Lemonade™, an apple whose very name inspires images of sunshine, summertime, and freshness. And it’s this freshness, a freshness in the very category even, that made the effort on Lemonade’s behalf worth it.

I spoke with Gary Caloroso, Regional Business Development Director; Jason Bushong, Wenatchee Division Manager; and Megan Schulz, Director of Communications, to learn more about the beginnings of this unique apple.

Introducing a new variety takes time—in the case of Lemonade, about five years’ worth of time—and enthusiasm is a necessary ingredient when it comes to revitalizing and strengthening the apple category. As the exclusive supplier of Lemonade, Giumarra began marketing these specialty apples from New Zealand for Johnny Appleseed LTD and has recently purchased the North American rights to the variety so that the company can grow it in the States. Traditionally made by cross-breeding Gala and Braeburn varieties, Lemonade earned its name because of its bright, lemon-y appearance.

As Giumarra tested the way the apple would hold up during the trip from New Zealand to North America, Lemonade continued to pass through other hurdles. Were its trees grower-friendly? Check. Does it yield well for growers? Check. Does it have good storage and shelf-life characteristics? Check. While Lemonade continued to prove its worth, the company knew that it needed to get the word out about this yellow apple.

“We want Lemonade to be one of those products that consumers are constantly talking about, however they might be using it,” Megan explains to me. “We already know that apples are one of the top fruit categories that consumers purchase. With a category that’s already a staple, we wanted Lemonade to stand out as a treat, one whose eating attributes make the apple shine.”

Lemonade™ Apples and nut butter make a great fiber- and protein-rich combination

But Lemonade, she assures me, needn’t be boxed into one specific camp. With a name that screams,“@Beyoncé in your IG tags,” it’s an apple that I predict will begin showing up everywhere on social media. Cue lemon emojis raining down from the skies!

“Having something in the yellow apple category was exciting to us, because there aren’t too many new yellow varieties,” Jason says. “For retailers, first and foremost, Lemonade provides a color break on their displays. You’re always going to have a green apple space, and you’ve got this massive bi-color space. The color break helps catch the eye of the consumer.”

Jason continues, stating that, “With Lemonade’s dense cell structure, it can take a little bit more handling. This translates to lower shrink, which retailers might not be used to with a more traditional yellow apple. With Lemonade, you get the sweetness of the Gala and the tartness of the Braeburn. Consumers remember that taste. On top of the visual stimulation with the bright yellow color, it’s a fantastic eating experience, which helps capture repeat rings at the register, sustaining the variety for many years to come.”

"We want Lemonade to be one of those products that consumers are constantly talking about, however they might be using it."

–Megan Schulz, Director of Communications, Giumarra Companies

Experience, as we all know, is the name of the game in the produce world, as more and more companies strive to center their products around the way they make consumers feel. People want to be wowed by their fruits and veggies as they seek out new and exciting flavors. For Giumarra, this is only a matter of course.

“Some people want a striking apple that they can photograph for social media, some people want a delicious snacking apple that they can eat out of hand, some people want to throw it in a dessert or new recipe, and some people are buying it for their kids—because what kid is going to turn down a Lemonade apple?” Megan asks.

Appealing to both adults and children, Lemonade’s firm, yet juicy crunch is freshness magnified. Giumarra’s New Zealand crop provides apples during the summer and is swiftly transported to the United States so consumers can enjoy their snappy crunch by the pool. Giumarra is also working with domestic growers to help solidify a fall and winter North American crop, so consumers who fell in love with Lemonade in July can continue to use the apple in their holiday meals.

With larger volumes now available—and consumers clamoring to find the apple in nearby retailers—Giumarra continues to laser in on expansion, particularly on the West Coast.

“As we’re moving forward with the variety, we’ve been working on a select number of tactics to help spread the word about Lemonade,” Megan shares with me when we began to dial into the specifics of a marketing campaign for the new variety. “It depends on the community; for some smaller retail chains, they may have more flexibility when it comes to programs and campaigns. For other communities, word-of-mouth marketing is enough; for others still, it might be that social media advertising has the biggest impact.”

Gary chimes in, letting me know that Giumarra offers customized marketing support for its retail partners as well, be it display contests or in-store demonstrations. That fantastic eating experience, though? Still the key.

Although the apple itself took several years to make it to market, the obvious enthusiasm and effort will have it front and center in the category. I daresay that Beyoncé herself might will it so!