Superfresh Growers'® Catherine Gipe-Stewart Provides a Deep Dive Into the Apple Market
YAKIMA, WA - The whispers of autumn are being heard by consumers here in the Northern Hemisphere, and with its calling comes the perfect opportunity for buyers to merchandise fall favorite produce offerings. Among the list of seasonal must-haves are apples, prompting me to touch base with Catherine Gipe-Stewart, Communications Manager at Superfresh Growers® to get the lowdown on the staple category.
“For buyers, we have ample POS and packaging programs here at Superfresh Growers, and to top it off we are anticipating another great year of Cosmic Crisp® and Autumn Glory® sales,” Catherine tells me. “We also have plenty of in-store and digital content to help retailers educate and excite consumers ahead of the fall season.”
Superfresh began its apple harvest at the beginning of August and is now deep into its conventional and organic Honeycrisp and Gala crops. Additionally, the grower is picking its Granny Smith and Fuji varieties and come October will transition to harvesting its popular Autumn Glory, Cosmic Crisp, and Pink Lady® apples. For each of its top-quality apple options, Superfresh offers an organic counterpart, with apples ranging from 20–25 percent organic depending on the variety.
Autumn Glory will be ready to promote by mid to late October, and the grower will release Cosmic Crisp on the industry agreed-upon date of November 8; earlier than last year, which will allow additional time for retailers to ramp up merchandising ahead of the holidays.
Due to the high apple demand, the category’s average retail price sits at $1.91/lb, up 10 percent according to Nielsen data for the 4 weeks ending August 24. Honeycrisp remains well above that price at an average of $2.87/lb, up 4 percent, while Gala is approximately $1.54/lb, up 15 percent year-over-year.
“Granny Smith and Fuji supplies have both been tight, and demand has been high for each,” she says. “Gala and Honeycrisp are both very steady right now with promotional volumes, we have very nice promotable supplies of organic Gala apples as well as organic and conventional Honeycrisp.”
Looking down the road at the rest of the season, Catherine says that Superfresh is expecting good quality and has already seen optimal pack-outs. Overall, sizing has been well-balanced and ready to promote across the board.
Although there have been several overarching industry challenges affecting Superfresh this year, the apple grower is expecting things to change course and benefit the rest of the season.
“Weather and labor are challenges we face every season,” Catherine details. “Superfresh Growers stop picking at 85 degrees, which can limit harvest hours. Luckily, temperatures have been cooling in recent weeks, and the lower temperatures are helping fruit size and color develop well. And, of course, we are still enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols, which can affect productivity, but safety is a top priority. Although labor also remains tight, we are thankful for the H2-A program as our percentage of H-2A reliance grows every year.”
If your shoppers are anything like me, the first hint of autumn has me running to the produce aisles to stock up on seasonal baking essentials like versatile apples. So, get your displays ready and your cross-promotions planned to capitalize on this prime opportunity, and if you need apples to stock your shelves reach out to Superfresh Growers.