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A Fruitful First Year in China for Rockit Apples

July 22, 2015

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Rockit Apples are the world’s first miniature bred apple, packaged into convenient tubes and marketed as a premium snack food and a healthy alternative to sugar-based confectionery. Produce Report spoke with Phil Alison, Managing Director of Havelock North Fruit Company Ltd. in New Zealand, about their recent entry into the Chinese market.

Originally launched in Taiwan and at the prestigious UK company Marks and Spencer, Rockit Apples are now selling in 29 countries, many of them for the first time in 2015. According to Alison, “Sales have exploded and this year we have sold our entire year’s supply in only four months.”

The worldwide consumer demand for Rockit Apples, up 700% since 2013, led to their launch in China in 2015 on a test basis, with a huge increase in sales expected for 2016. Three agents are currently authorized for the exclusive handling of Rockit Apples in China: fruit giant Golden Wing Mau for the supermarket segment, Fruitday for the e-commerce sector, and Backbone Trading for the food service and corporate segments. The company is currently engaged in a wide variety of promotional activities, such as in-store tastings, giveaways, and one-off events.

Although the concept of a health snack may be somewhat new for many Chinese consumers, Alison says, “This market is developing quickly and the Chinese consumer is a very quick adapter of new items. In fact when we launched in China it seemed like all the Chinese importers e-mailed and requested to be our agents. We got swamped with enquiries.”

Rockit Apples, described by Alison as “full of flavor and with quality characteristics which in most cases are superior to existing apples,” are currently available in Pagoda, the largest fruit retail store in China, OLE, AEON, and other stores.

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