Don Roper Discusses Honeybear Brands' Pazazz Apples
ELGIN, MN - In recent years, the produce department has welcomed an influx of new fruit and vegetables varieties, fresh packaging aesthetics, and merchandising solutions to grab the consumer’s eye, and a share of their wallet. In the run up to PMA Fresh Summit and with all the new items and diverse range of products in the produce spread, I asked Don Roper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Honeybear Brands, what differentiates an item and makes a first-time consumer a repeat customer. And like the many whom I have asked this question to before, he tells me: flavor.
“Pazazz, our newest premium variety is the end product of ten years of intensive nurturing and growing in the finest apple growing regions in North America,” Don shares with me. “And it definitely shows. Pazazz has a flavor profile that’s a perfect blend of sweet and tart, so it appeals to almost every apple lover’s tastes and palette. In fact, feedback from retail partners in more than 30 markets across the country, during last year’s sales cycle, pointed to flavor as one of the key reasons why consumers buy Pazazz and quickly become repeat customers.”
With October and November quickly approaching, Honeybear is ramping up to offer the Pazazz apple in major markets throughout North America. With new acreage reaching maturity next year, Honeybear will be doubling in volume between now and next season, and then nearly doubling again the season after that.
“With the constant flow of new varieties into the produce department, the biggest challenge is getting the consumer, in a very limited time window, to try a new variety. For this reason, a new variety must be both aesthetically eye-catching, with the flavor experience that keeps bringing the consumer back,” Don tells me.“Pazazz does just that. It exhibits that on-shelf beauty appeal and the eating experience introduces the consumer to a whole new spectrum of flavor.”
“Honeybear is a company that invests in, and understands, the importance of being at the forefront of varietal development. We realized earlier than most that the apple category is changing rapidly. Consumers want and demand flavor, crunch, and an incredible apple eating experience,” Don explains. “The older varieties of years gone by just can’t deliver that in the same way as a variety like Pazazz—one that has been carefully grown and nurtured for maximum flavor, a second to none crunch factor, and a wow apple eating experience.”
Don adds that retail partners across North America have seen year-over-year sales growth from Pazazz, a variety designed to extend their retail windows but make an even bigger impact with customers who crave real taste.
So, how else does the variety differentiate within the competitive apple category? While Pazazz is harvested in fall like many apples, its flavor actually improves in the late fall and winter months. So by the time some other varieties in-store have lost their just-picked freshness, Pazazz is bursting with flavor and really helping retail partners extend their premium apple sales window and drive incremental sales at all their stores.
“We are incredibly excited for this year’s Fresh Summit and really interested in getting on-the-floor feedback and reactions from attendees trying Pazazz for the first time, or sampling some of our sneak peek varieties that are in development but not quite ready for retail yet,” Don says, adding that if you’re near the Honeybear booth, one thing is certain, you’ll hear the explosive crunch of Pazazz being sampled.
Honeybear will also be sampling some of its other varieties that are close to retail readiness and discussing with booth visitors the incredible, unique factors that are going to make them retail stars over the next few years.
“In order to adapt to the changing fresh produce environment, we think in three ways but all at once: like a grower, a retailer, and a consumer, and we let the needs of each of those audiences really drive what we’re doing,” Don notes. “Honeybear has put into place protocols and ways of growing that really help provide sustainable, profitable livelihoods for our families and communities of growers across North America. We also work hand in hand with our retail partners, not just during apple season but year round to understand how the varieties we grow—and particularly Pazazz—impact and affect their business and bottom line.”
And above all else the company focuses on the end consumer: the mom or dad and their kids who are looking for the freshest, best tasting, and healthiest apples to eat.
Stop by PMA Fresh Summit booth 1609 to check out the Pazazz apple, get a sneak peak of new varieties, and meet the team behind the Honeybear Brands mission.