They are to launch a five-year, £200,000-a-year consumer PR campaign in April in a bid to change consumers’ perception of the variety as a cheap, bog-standard apple, to one of a sweet, high quality fruit.
Golden Delicious sales have plummeted in the face of competition from increasingly popular bi-coloured apples. But South Africa’s Golden Delicious growers believe their fruit is good enough to be
considered, and priced, on a similar level.
They are not targeting increased volumes - plantings in South Africa have declined in line with falling sales. But they believe raised awareness of the quality of Golden Delicious grown in South Africa would make it straightforward for retailers to increase prices without harming sales.
Nigel Mudge, chairman of the South African Apple & Pear Producers’ Association, said: “Golden Delicious is losing out because it has become cannon fodder in the battle among the supermarkets to be the lowest priced. But in our research we found UK consumers said they would pay anything for South African Golden Delicious as long as it was under £2.00/kg.
“That’s the sort of level Pink Lady sells at, but we are aiming to achieve a price similar to Braeburn, around £1.49/kg, compared with current prices of about £1.15/kg for our fruit.”
Mudge said Golden Delicious sales had suffered because consumers no longer understood that the variety came from different sources throughout the year.
“South African Golden Delicious is a unique fruit that is significantly different from the northern hemisphere variety. But it is hard for consumers to grasp that because it is merchandised as a commodity, not on the basis of where it was grown.”