Washington Apple Gets Name – Finally

The first apple variety released by Washington State University (WSU), ‘WA 2,’ will be given the brand name ‘Sunrise Magic.’

WSU has launched a second release of ‘WA 2’ with a new commercial licensing and marketing program in partnership with Proprietary Variety Management (PVM). The name and marketing strategy are expected to give the apple the commercial momentum it needs to be commercially successful.

‘Sunrise Magic’ has been highly ranked in taste tests and among consumers. A cross between ‘Splendour’ and ‘Gala,’ the apple has an attractive pinkish-red blush with conspicuous lenticels. Consumers describe it as sweet with moderate acidity, making it perfect for fresh eating.

The apple is harvested about a week after ‘Cosmic Crisp,’ during ‘Red Delicious’ season, and stores exceptionally well. ‘Cosmic Crisp’ was the second apple releases by WSU, but was the first to be named.

Originally released to Washington growers as ‘WA 2’ in 2009, ‘Sunrise Magic’ was not branded by WSU when it first issued licenses for the trees. WSU decided to leave the naming up to growers/marketers, but the strategy turned out to be largely fruitless.

The improved marketing strategy for re-release of ‘WA 2’ includes developing a consistently recognizable brand for consumers. The new name is the result of a considerable consumer-based process involving focus groups and social media polls.

“One of the core beliefs of PVM is that the long-term success of a new branded product depends on getting consumers involved in the commercialization process from the very beginning,” says John Reeves, general manager of PVM, the same company assisting WSU with the commercialization of ‘Cosmic Crisp.’ “As with ‘Cosmic Crisp,’ we wanted to find out what brand name connected best with consumers.”

Focus groups in Spokane and Seattle, WA, selected ‘Sunrise’ for the apple’s pinkish coloring and refreshing taste. ‘Sunrise Magic’ was preferred among potential names presented to participants.

The marketing strategy for ‘Sunrise Magic’ will be similar to the branding and licensing structure for ‘Cosmic Crisp,’ but existing licensees of ‘WA 2’ may continue using their own private brands, if they prefer.

Growers who choose to market the apple using the consumer-chosen brand, ‘Sunrise Magic,’ may apply prior ‘WA 2’ licensing payments as credit toward future tree royalties under the new contract. PVM plans to reach out to existing growers and is available to answer questions about different options that are available.

Grant Awarded To Improve ‘Cosmic Crisp’

Stefano Musacchi, Endowed Chair for Tree Fruit Physiology and Management in the Department of Horticulture, recently received $249,000 from the USDA to optimize the orchard management and fruit quality of the ‘Cosmic Crisp’ apple.

The grant is focus on training systems to optimize vigor control and quality of ‘Cosmic Crisp,’ the latest creation of WSU’s apple breeding program, led by Kate Evans.

Funding comes via the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Also listed in the grant are R. Karina Gallardo, Associate Professor, Extension Specialist in the School of Economic Sciences; Lee Kalcsits, Assistant Professor, Tree Fruit Physiology; Desmond Layne, Professor of Pomology and Director of Agricultural and Food Systems and Integrated Plant Sciences; and Sara Serra, Assistant Professor in Horticulture.

Article by David Eddy, Growing Produce