Small volumes of Isaaq and Swing to be sold this season, while Fruit Australia JV will market Snapdragon

Australian apple consumers will get a taste of Isaaq and Swing this season.

The trademarked varieties are being sold exclusively by the N&A Group.

ISAAQ Batlow

Isaaq apples are being grown at N&A Group’s Batlow orchards

“Following our successful involvement in the Kanzi programme and the promising start to the Regal’In programme with WAFD, we are also investing in two new apple varieties, Isaaq and Swing,” said N&A Group’s Hannah Cathels.

“Small trial volumes will be available through the N&A sales floor at the Sydney Markets this season, marketed under the Isaaq and Swing brands. They will be introduced to Australian consumers in select retailers.”

N&A Group is the Australian master licensee for Isaaq and Swing. It has been developing production of both varieties for several seasons now, with trial plantings at its own orchards in Batlow and at Plunkett Orchards in Shepparton.

“We currently have just under 10,000 Isaaq trees planted across both sites and approximately 1,300 Swing trees in the ground, with a further 10,000 trees that will be grafted this year to plant in 2024,” Cathels explained.

More varieties

N&A Group is also growing and marketing a range of US-bred varieties as part of its involvement in Fruit Australia – a joint venture between N&A Group, 9mile Fresh and Adelaide Hills Fresh.

“We have been developing, planting and trialling these varieties for several seasons now and each variety has proven its suitability for Australian growing conditions,” explained Cathels.

The varieties will be marketed under the brand names Ruby Frost, Sunrise Magic and Snapdragon.

Small commercial volumes of Snapdragon will be available in Australia this season.

“Our programme will be based around introducing the variety to the market in select retailers and on wholesale market floors in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to premium independent retailers,” said Cathels.

Fruit Australia has been busy identifying market opportunities unique to each apple, based on physical characteristics like their size and flavour profile, along with more intangible characteristics like when they are picked and how well they store.

“We’re not necessarily trying to find different demographics for each variety. Our aim has been to find opportunities for each variety in the context of the overall picture of the apple market in Australia,” said Cathels.

Strong crop

N&A Group began its 2023 apple harvest in mid-March with Royal Gala. Cathels said picking began one or two weeks later than recent years due to the somewhat cold temperatures over summer.

Nevertheless, the outlook for this season’s harvest is promising.

Snapdragon is one of the varieties in the Fruit Australia programme

“We are expecting a strong crop from our orchards in Batlow this year – with a slightly smaller size profile than last year,” Cathels said.

“Labour availability seems to be getting back to normal post-Covid, however, we are still relying more on labour contractors than on the seasonal workforce.

“We are thankful that conditions for picking the crop have been unproblematic so far this season. Like every other industry we are dealing with increased costs of production due to inflation, material shortages and rising fuel costs.”