Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
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Premium Apples Are Taking Over

Move over, Red Delicious.

The heyday of that hardy fruit may be coming to an end as better-tasting apples like Honeycrisps grow in popularity and bring better returns to farmers. U.S. shoppers have only grown more willing to pay for premium apples, leading growers to develop new varieties and upgrade their orchards to produce more expensive fruits, Eric Rama, the head of agricultural research at MetLife Inc., said in a report.

In the past, farmers favored apples with long shelf lives to the detriment of taste. That led to the reign of the Red Delicious, the most widely produced apple for 70 years. But its production is declining now. In contrast, Honeycrisp output increased 275 percent and prices rose 41 percent from 2010 to 2017, according to the report.

The future of the apple may be in so-called “club” varieties. Supplies of these fruits are tightly controlled using patents and royalties paid per tree, which fund marketing campaigns that build the brand. Simply put, the apples taste better, and consumers are throwing their dollars that way.

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