WENATCHEE, Wash. – Summer fruit season is in full swing, but Stemilt is looking ahead to early August and a quick start to the new apple season with the return of Rave® brand MN55 cultivar apples. The Honeycrisp-MonArk cross has unique early harvest timing in the three regions it currently grows in. This allows retailers to ignite their apple categories with ads starting in mid-August. Stemilt marketing director Brianna Shales and communications manager Katie Harmon discussed the category impact that Rave® apples enjoy during a special edition of Fast Facts The Cast.
“Retailers sold a case of Rave® apples per store, per week on average during the first six weeks of the apple season,” said Shales. “Velocity is important at the start of any season in produce, and Rave® comes on during that transition time from summer to fall, but with outrageously juicy flavors to entice consumers to try something new.”
According to Nielsen scan data, Rave® was the #4 club apple nationally during the first six weeks of the apple season from early August to mid-September 2019. The 2019 crop of Rave® was the largest volume crop since the apple’s introduction in 2018. Rave® apples accounted for 5.9 percent of club apple volume and 6.2 percent of sales with a $2.13 per pound average retail.
“Without significant volumes, it can be hard for a new apple to make a category impact,” said Shales. “That’s where Rave® apples really stand out. They rise in the data because the unique, early season timing that allows retailers to jump on a new mid-August promotion opportunity for apples. Plus, retailers can promote a fantastic apple that sells above average apple prices, making it a category starter for both dollars and volume.”
The upcoming season for Rave® apples will build off the 2019 crop’s success because more trees have come into production. Stemilt is anticipating increased volumes from Washington State compared to the smaller 2020 crop. Retailers will also benefit from Rave® apple supplies from Applewood Fresh™ in Michigan and Yes! Apples® in New York.
Stemilt utilized digital demos to introduce Rave® apples to 500 consumers in August 2020, because in-store trials were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After they trialed the apple, 89 percent of shoppers said they intended to repurchase Rave® apples.
“The digital demos proved that shoppers consistently have positive experiences with Rave® and that once they try it, they’ll Rave about it,” said Shales. “That’s exactly the excitement we’ll be looking to restart come August with retail promotions.”
Shales encourages retailers to tap into the 4P’s of marketing (product, placement, price, and promotion) when planning for Rave® apple’s August arrival. Placement is important with a new and seasonal offering like Rave® apples. Retailers can utilize the bold, magenta branded carton to help retailers create a rave-worthy destination for Rave® apples in a high traffic area of the produce department. It’s also important to use in-store signage and digital tactics to introduce or reacquaint shoppers with Rave® apples.
“We’re anticipating a great crop of Rave® apples with a range of sizing and opportunities for a first promotion in mid-August,” said Shales. “The brand will also be supported by a fun, nationwide consumer marketing campaign during its season to drive awareness and trial.”
Stemilt is a family-owned grower, packer, and shipper of tree fruit. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt’s mission is to cultivate people and delight consumers through excellence with its World Famous Fruits. Stemilt is a leader in sweet cherries and organic tree fruits, and a key supplier of apples and pears. The company stewards an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business through its Responsible Choice® program, which has been in place since 1989. For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com.