view current print edition







Hess Bros. launching Wild Twist apples in 2020

Hess Bros. Fruit Co. has been supplying premium quality eastern apples since 1967 and the Lancaster, PA-based company is currently on its third generation of family ownership.  

The company markets, on average, two million bushels of apples every year. Last year, was a strong year for the company, with good quality and strong volume, and things are projected to be somewhat similar this season.

12-04-19 WildTwist0052 “Our 2019 harvest year has been good, and very similar in volume to last year,” said Chris Sandwick, director of marketing for the company. “We are continuing to live through the evolution of the apple category, as more traditional varieties are tailing off and being replaced by newer, better apples. This can be stressful, but we are well equipped to handle these changes, as our growers have long been planting more HoneyCrisp, Gala, and other modern varieties.”

In addition, Hess Bros. has been developing a new variety that it is launching in February of 2020. 

“Wild Twist apples will hit the store shelves for the first time in 2020 and we couldn’t be more excited,” Sandwick said. “Wild Twist is a cross between HoneyCrisp and Cripps Pink. It has the explosively juicy crunch of HoneyCrisp combined with the intricate flavor of Cripps Pink. Wild Twist delivers a unique eating experience that customers won’t want to miss. We like to think of it as two favorites combined in one great apple.”  

The Wild Twist variety has been a project for Hess Bros. for a number of years, as the company works with breeding programs throughout the U.S. and around the world to find the next great apple. Fred Hess and Jerry Hess, who comprised the company’s second generation of leadership, first tried the apple back in 2011, setting in motion a plan to bring the variety to the company. Both haven since passed away, and the next generation of Hess family carries forward their vision with this release.

Sandwick explained that Hess Bros. worked with its excellent grower-partners in Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia to test the apple in a commercial environment, with early reaction being extremely positive. That led to the company electing to commercialize — now with more than 400 acres planted across dozens of farms in the Eastern U.S. 

“The apple has won taste-test competitions with our retail-partners all over the country,” he said. “The past two seasons has shown a limited amount of fruit available to key partners in the Eastern U.S. and consumer reaction has matched our early feelings about this apple truly being a superior eating experience.”

Currently, the company has enough volume to expand to around 150,000 units available for sale this year. Hess Bros. has partnered with Rainier Fruit in Yakima, WA to offer both Eastern and Western production in the years to come. 

“This year is enough fruit to expand the footprint and build additional fans,” Sandwick said. “We are working towards something bigger. We have trees in the ground for a million bushels three years from now.” He noted the apple is not only an incredible eating experience, but as it will be available from February to June, it’s available in a time of year typically devoid of those options in the apple category. The apple maintains its superior crunch and intricate flavor all through the summer. 

“The future of the category depends on this kind of innovation,” Sandwick said. “As we compete with unhealthy snack foods for share-of-stomach, Hess Brothers is committed to offering healthy food choices that deliver the consistent flavor that consumers demand. If we’re going to convince consumers to choose apples over chips and candy…we need to deliver a consistently exceptional eating experience 365 days a year.”