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   Apples Down On Size But Not Short Of Promotion Opportunities
by Stemilt Growers
Posted: Monday, January 8, 2018 at 9:02AM EST

WENATCHEE, Wash. – Despite a larger crop nationally, the apple category was down more than 7 percent in both volume and dollars in November 2017 when compared to November 2016. Stemilt’s latest Fruit Tracker Fast Facts video analysis of Nielsen retail scan data for the total U.S. from November provides retailers with actions to take in the New Year in order to boost the apple category as key late winter and spring months approach.

Honeycrisp was the only top 5 apple variety to grow in both volume and dollars sold when comparing November 2017 to November 2016. Honeycrisp was the #2 variety with 17.8 percent of total apple sales, up 2.5 percent year-over-year. Retailers sold 26 more pounds on average, or a 7.1 percent volume increase, yet dollars only increased by 2.3 percent.

“Honeycrisp supplies have increased nationally year-over-year which is why we are seeing significant volume increases. It’s also noteworthy that dollars are not growing as much. This is the result of increased promotion activity on Honeycrisp,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt communications manager.

The remaining top 5 apple varieties in November 2017 were Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Red Delicious. The amount of Gala sold in November 2017 was down 7.9 percent year-over-year, while dollars dropped 9.1 percent. Granny Smith and Fuji were also down considerably, and Red Delicious was down nearly 15 percent in both dollars and volume nationally.

“The apples from Washington State are down a size on average this season. This means that shoppers who purchase bulk, and the same count of apples every time they place them in the cart, are picking up 10 percent less than they would in a year with average or larger sized fruit. This reality means that retailers have to get creative with promotions in order to prevent their apple category from missing the mark on volume and dollars,” said Shales.

Adding more apple varieties to ads is vital to elevate the entire category, Shales noted. “Honeycrisp can’t be the only apple on ad as multi-variety ads are key. Include Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, and select club apple varieties in your late winter and spring ads in order to ensure the apple category is healthy. Tote bagging bulk apples at retail can also encourage larger purchases,” she said.

Bags present another opportunity because of smaller fruit size in the crop. The most popular bag sizes in November 2017 were three and five pounds. Selling apples in larger sized bags is a great way to keep velocity on apples during a year where smaller fruit prevails, said Shales. Stemilt offers a variety of three and five pound packaging options, all centered on marketing intent to shoppers.

“Lil Snappers® is our widely popular kid-sized apple program in a 3lb. pouch bag, while 5lb. Apple Lover and Fresh Blenders™ juicing apples are great for everyday and lifestyle use. Our Artisan Organics™ apple program is also available under the Lil Snappers® brand and a great option for retailers looking to grow their organic apple categories,” said Shales.

In looking at organics, this segment of the apple category increased in both volume and dollar share year-over-year. Organic apples were 7.2 percent of the apple category, up an entire percent from 2016, while dollars increased by 0.7 percent to 9.9 percent of apple sales. The average retail price for organic apples was $2.18, a $0.63 premium over conventionally grown apples.

“It’s exciting for us to see organic apples make a bigger impact in the apple category. Stemilt’s volume of Artisan Organics™ apples has increased significantly since 2016, especially on key, high-flavor varieties like Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala and Piñata®. We’ve been growing organically since 1989 but have focused on increased volumes of the varieties that organic shoppers want in order to help retailers grow the category in 2017 and beyond,” said Shales.

Stemilt’s organic season will run longer this year than in prior years due to more organic storage capabilities through dynamic controlled atmosphere technologyAre. This fact joins Stemilt’s increased supplies to help retailers keep high-ring and high-flavor organic apples on the shelves for most months of the year. 

Many club varieties made their way onto shelves in November 2017, and the top 3 that month were Ambrosia, Jazz, and SweeTango®. For the third consecutive month, SweeTango® showed its strength by bringing in 12.8 percent more dollars and moving 24.6 percent more volume than in November 2016. 

“There are many club varieties available now, and the New Year often marks the start of the season for many. Our signature variety, Piñata®, is included in that exclusive group and we are excited about the crop quality and wide range of merchandising options available to retailers looking to promote the tropical apple in their stores during these cold months,” said Shales. 

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About Stemilt

Stemilt Growers is a leading tree fruit growing, packing and shipping company based in Wenatchee, Washington. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt is the leading shipper of sweet cherries and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of organic tree fruits. Stemilt has also demonstrated a commitment to sustainable agriculture and social responsibility since 1989, when founder Tom Mathison launched the company’s Responsible Choice program. For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com and follow Stemilt on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and You Tube. 

Source: Stemilt Growers


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