DURHAM, N.C. – For forty years, Red Delicious dominated apple production and consumption in the United States. None of us knew what we were missing until Honeycrisp variety apples went viral in 2007. Sales in the apple category exploded as Americans learned what a delicious snacking apple should taste like. Today hundreds of millions of pounds of Honeycrisps are sold annually, and Red Delicious production has fallen in half since Honeycrisp gained popularity1.
This July, a new strawberry is hitting grocery freezer sections across the East Coast. This strawberry is 50% sweeter than commercial strawberries varieties that are traditionally frozen like Camino Reals or Ambrosias. Strawberry sweetness is measured through Brix2, and Ruby June variety of strawberries are near the top of the scale at a 12 or 13 Brix measurement. Developed at Lassen Canyon Nursery and botanically known as Fragaria x ananassa, the Ruby June variety of strawberries has a deep dark red exterior and interior, with a sweet, luscious flavor that can actually be smelled upon opening a bag of frozen strawberries.
One gets the feeling that a big change is about to happen in the frozen strawberry market, just like apples in 2007, Americans’ taste buds will be the driving force.
These Ruby June Strawberries come in a distinct package highlighting the variety and the family farmer, Teresa Cottle, that grew them in Faison, North Carolina.
“Several years ago, we decided to go after a more flavorful berry. After multiple varietal testings, we found the perfect variety, Ruby June. Ruby June has an excellent flavor profile, and great characteristics such as size, color, and most importantly flavor.” - Teresa Cottle
The new variety is distributed under the Seal the Seasons brand, a company that believes the best produce comes from local farms. Seal the Seasons uses a “locally grown, locally frozen, and locally sold” business model to bring the best local foods to their grocery partners.
“I am so proud of our teams hard work over the last 12 months to bring this variety to market” said CEO Patrick Mateer, “it took careful planning with Ron and Teresa over at Cottle Farms to grow the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed for our customers”.
Initial launch customers include Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Food Lion, Whole Foods, Lowes Foods, Ingles Markets, and Weaver Street Market Co-op. Ruby Junes will be available across about 1500 locations on the east coast.
Seal the Seasons is one of the only brands showing double digit dollar sales growth over all 4, 12, 24 and 52 week periods in both the MULO and the Natural Channel. The brands growth is especially strong given the flat MULO category and slump in the natural channel for frozen fruit sales nationwide. Seal the Seasons dollar sales growth outpaces the MULO channel by 24 points and the Natural channel by 50 points.
The company currently has 65+ unique local SKUs available – supporting over 70+ farms and utilizing over 12 freezing and packing sites across the United States.