Honeybear® Brands' Don Roper Dishes on Apple Market Movement
ELGIN, MN - While the new normal shifts, there is at least one thing that has remained consistent: the demand for apples at retail. While the markets across many categories are in flux, apples remain a tried and true staple in the fresh produce department.
“We are seeing steady retail movement of apples as we head into summer months. Our company experienced exceptional sales during the spring period as consumers filled their pantries during the onset of the COVID-19 virus,” Don Roper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Honeybear® Brands shares with me. “Right now, other commodities such as grapes, soft fruit, and cherries are being harvested and provide more fruit options available at retail, but we anticipate that apple lovers will still want consistency in their baskets and we have good supplies of apples nationwide as apple stocks are over 20 percent greater than the same time last year.”
Don breaks it down even further for me, adding that pricing on most legacy varieties has been pretty stable all spring, and he does not anticipate many changes this summer. The only noted change has been Honeycrisp pricing, as supply has started to shrink quite a bit, resulting in markets strengthening for both small and large Honeycrisp apples, he notes.
“Small Honeycrisp fruit will be in short supply all summer and command a premium,” Don says. “Bulk large Honeycrisp will follow, and there will be adequate volume over the summer months.”
One of the major changes that Don has noticed is how COVID-19 seems to have pushed consumers into buying more packaged items like bagged fruit.
“We are noting a more than 40 percent increase in packaged sales during that time period,” Don reflects. “This number comes from our retail partners along with requests for larger packaging solutions—likely a result of consumers reducing their trips to the store each week. Produce retail departments are also losing shelf space due to social distancing leading to fewer shipper displays and POS in the departments in order to facilitate more customer spacing.”
Full of insights, Don also adds that online shopping and digital programming have reigned supreme; from Instacart and curbside pickup programs to all of the new home meal direct programs. Honeybear’s retail partners are facing new challenges that will become the norm of tomorrow. This will have a direct impact on many growers and they will have to adapt to these real and lasting changes.
And change is definitely in the air—the big question is, how we will adapt?