Thursday, May 7, 2015

Market prices make a hierarchy of apples

My own ratings notwithstanding, the market has spoken about the relative value of different apple varieties.

In the supermarket today, a few tried-and-true varieties are in the bargain bin, going for 99¢ per pound.

These are the same industrial apples you probably could have found for sale in supermarkets 50 years ago: Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Granny Smith, Cortland, and McIntosh.

McIntosh and, perhaps, Cortland may be regional specialties, but they have long been on the menu here in the Northeast, almost any time of year.

Empire is going for $1.29 a pound one week, $0.99 the next.

The next tier of apples comprises now-familiar varieties introduced here over the past 30 years or so. Apples like Gala and Braeburn can be had for $1.59 per pound; Jazz and Fuji are $1.99.

Organic versions of these same varieties mostly occupy the $2–3.00 bracket.

At the top of the price heap are specialty apples. A version of Fuji being marketed as Kiku goes for for $3.49, and the famous Honeycrisp can still be had in May for a stratospheric $3.99 per lb.

If you have to have Honeycrisp then you have to have it, but at this time of year it is really just a shadow of its autumn self. Like almost every other variety for sale today.

Marketing those Fujis as another variety strikes me as misleading. This variant eats like Fuji (since it is). (These Kiku Fujis were enormous, but that's a characteristic of the harvest, not the apple. Some Fujis are similarly gigantic.)

Other supermarkets have other varieties and other pricing, but the hierarchy of price in mid Spring is generally similar everywhere.

I look forward to the immanent arrival of apples from New Zealand, Chile and other points south, where the harvest is just ending. These apples were picked recently and the qualitative difference will be palpable.


  1. We are enjoying fresh apples picked here in New Zealand. Do you get the Mahana Red over there? They are very nice but often more expensive - perhaps on the same tier as Honeycrisp.

    1. Jo, what a pleasure to be introduced to your blog! I look forward to spending some time with it.

      As you can imagine, I am anticipating with pleasure the annual arrival of apples from your part of the world. (Tell me, does it run the other way in the fall? Are you refreshed by apples from the northern half of the globe?)

      Mahana Red has not made it to New England yet. But every year or so we get one or two new varieties from New Zealand. Last year for example we saw both Lemonade and Smitten.

      So maybe this year!—something else to look forward to.

  2. I've seen Honeycrisp apples retail for $4.99/lb! Granted, this when they're out of season, in late spring. Still, highway robbery! Other apples that I like such as Lady Alice retail for $2.99/lb even in season. The more popular the apple, the higher the price point, generally (around here at least - here being Montreal, Canada).

    1. Anne, if people are willing to pay five bucks a pound (!) for off-season Honeycrisp, well, a chacun son goûte. No criticism intended, I just find it singular.


Join the conversation! We'd love to know what you think.