It’s difficult to overstate Honeycrisp’s significance—its impact on apple consumption and the produce category alike. The name evokes a honey-like sweetness and airy texture which perfectly describes this apple developed by the University of Minnesota in the 1970s. Officially released in 1991, Honeycrisp has since cemented itself as the No. 1 apple in United States sales dollars (according to NielsenIQ retail scan data) thanks to a cult following of passionate fans. But what exactly made the rise of “Honey” so remarkable?
Rainier Fruit Company’s history with Honeycrisp began in the mid-’90s, when the Zirkle family planted some of the first trees in Washington State. Anyone familiar with growing the variety knows how difficult it is to handle the many quirks that come with an apple bred to be tasty but not easy to grow or store. It took years of trial and error to tame the rambunctious Honey and its tendency to grow giant, ugly, low-color fruit. What fueled this space race was the belief that perfecting the variety could help reinvigorate the apple category and spark a revolution toward items pulled off the shelves, not pushed.
The memory of that first bite of a Honeycrisp is an unforgettable experience for many an apple aficionado. Before long, as consumers discovered the variety’s unique tangy-sweet juiciness, demand soared and quickly outstripped supply. The next challenge was cracking the long-term storage code to meet year-round demand—especially difficult for organically grown fruit. After years of tinkering, Rainier Fruit Company successfully shipped 100 percent domestically grown Honeycrisp year-round in 2015 and organic Honeycrisp in 2019.
Despite the challenges, Rainier Fruit Company knows all the effort is worth it to provide a product that increases fruit consumption by meeting consumer needs and preferences for sweet, crunchy apples. The company believes in the power of premium Honeycrisp to trade up purchases and boost the repeat rate, especially when displayed with an eye-catching box ready to stack easily into promotional displays. Looking toward the future, Rainier will continue sharpening its Honeycrisp program through refreshed orchard plantings, tight standards, and new partnerships to ensure a constant supply of premium fruit.