Stemilt encourages multi-variety ads to counter apple category dip

Stemilt encourages multi-variety ads to counter apple category dip

U.S. apple sales and volume in October were off a beat from a year ago, and Stemilt Growers says one way to counter that is to promote multiple varieties in a range of pack options.

In the most recent edition of the video analysis Fruit Tracker Fast Facts, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt reviewed Nielsen retail scan data for the quarter ending Oct. 24.

Apple dollars were down 1.2% nationally for the 12-week period compared with year-ago numbers, according to a news release. Pounds sold were off 0.5%, a trend that will likely continue because of the stark difference in crop sizes between the 2019 and 2020 crop, according to the release.

“As harvest winds down, we know that the crop is shorter than last year’s record apple crop,” Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager at Stemilt, said in the release. “This fact means that retail dollars will need to strengthen over the next several months in order to counter the smaller volumes.”

Packaged apples continue their strength during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the release, with 38% of dollar sales and 44% of volume generated from packaged apples between Aug. 8 and Oct. 24, according to the release. Conventional bulk apples were down 8% in both dollars and volume year-over-year, retail scan data shows.

“Packaged apples are up 7% in dollars and 9.3% year-over-year,” Shales said in the release. “This is influencing apple dollars, as there is currently a $0.50 differential between bags and bulk. There is a balance in the normal disruption and now is the time for retailers to reimagine the way that bulk apples are sold so that we can help shoppers get them into their carts.”
Stemilt’s new paper tote bag, called Farm + Famous, can help retailers sell core apple varieties at a per pound price during this time, according to the release.

“We don’t want to let off the gas on bagged apples, but rather reimagine the way bulk apples are being sold during the pandemic,” Shales said in the release. “These totes come pre-packed so that retailers can use our display-ready cartons to instantly build displays for shoppers to grab and get on their way. It’s essential for fitting current shopper behaviors, which don’t look to be changing as we head into the winter months.”

Mixed sales trends were noted with apple varieties over the past 12 weeks, according to the release, with Honeycrisp up nationally 7.6% in dollars and 6.8% in volume. Fuji had similar growth, while the release said dollars and volume were down for Gala.

“Honeycrisp is the natural favorite for promotions, yet too many ads are focused on this variety alone,” Shales said in the release. “It’s a consumer favorite and one people gravitate to naturally, so multi-variety ads are going to be the ticket to win on apple dollars and volumes as we head into the winter months. Promote Honeycrisp but do so alongside other core varieties and at different price points.”

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