Stemilt’s Brianna Shales Talks Apple and Pear Varieties for the Summer
WENATCHEE, WA - As we head into the spring and summer months, Stemilt prepares for a plentiful and piquant season. I spoke with Communications Manager Brianna Shales about available varieties and coming promotion opportunities. She said Stemilt is excited to highlight its pear and apple categories so I began with asking about its apple varieties.
“On the conventional apple side, we have Pink Lady, Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith and they are the top ones for bulk ads,” explained Bianna. "And on the organic side, we have organic Fuji, organic Gala, and organic Granny Smith."
I inquired Brianna about what makes Stemilt’s apple program at this time of year such a unique opportunity for a retailer.
“Pink Lady, Fuji, and Gala all have new strains of the varieties that have become available and those are usually reserved for our later season because they have higher quality,” she said. “Basically, at harvest time, we’re looking for apples to put into storage that has high starch reserves, great colors, good condition. We essentially put the best away into storage and that’s what we’re pulling out now and packing fresh. Apples have starch reserves that if they’re kept cold in a controlled atmosphere, they will actually hold onto the starch reserves, and then when we pull them out of those rooms, they start converting that starch over to sugar, and so that’s the reason why we can sell apples all throughout the year.”
Brianna said retailers can maximize the season by using multiple varieties at a time on apple ads, emphasizing it is especially important as they start to see Honeycrisp pricing go up and supplies dwindle. That’s why having these four varieties—Pink Lady, Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith—all on one ad at once will help elevate the whole category.
“These are four varieties that offer a good opportunity to offer at a nice retail price and uphold promotion over the next six weeks or so,” she said. “On the organic side, that season is starting to wrap up. A final push on organic Fuji, Gala, and Granny in an ad, which would be a really good way to finish off the season on a high note and make sure that you’re still capturing those organic sales because they do sell at a premium over conventional.”
On the pear side, Brianna explained there are just two varieties: green and red anjous, which Stemilt has a really unique program around to be able to deliver ready-to-eat fruit to the marketplace.
“It's a really good opportunity to be able to build pear shoppers in this late season timing,” she said.
In discussing pear demand, I asked Brianna about the program we recently reported as Stemilt looks to bring flavor back to this category.
“There’s a lot of other things we can do in terms of how we hold the fruit, how we harvest it, how it’s packed, how we ripen it, and do all those little things right in order to deliver a better eating experience to the shopper,” she said. “Which is ultimately what will help this category to turn.”
Stemilt’s pear program has been doing really well in the category as a result.
“It’s exciting, it’s a journey, we still have longer to go,” said Brianna. “There are promotion opportunities available on bulk pears, green and red anjous right now, so it’s a good time to capitalize on our fruit and our program.”
To relay this message to its shoppers, Brianna said it is simply a matter of incremental sales saying that when people eat a pear that is ripe and delicious, they're going to come back.
“The big thing is flavor and quality,” she said. “Promoting those two things is the way to drive purchase. Display size and location is really important to ensuring a product on promotion gets moved through the cash register.”
Brianna noted that retailers are needed to help merchandise and promote pears to make that purchase happen. The main goal for Stemilt, however, is that the consumer buys a pear, takes it home, and it’s ripe within a few days to give an experience they will come back for.
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