Stemilt Growers' Brianna Shales Discusses U.S. Market's

Stemilt Growers' Brianna Shales Discusses U.S. Market's "Love Affair" with Honeycrisp Apples in Fruit Tracker Fast Facts

WENATCHEE, WA - Another edition of Stemilt’s Fruit Tracker Fast Facts is here, and data shows clearly that apple season has arrived! With the apple category’s total contribution to the average U.S. produce department jumping an entire percentage point—from 5.9 to 6.9 percent—in just one month’s time, the slow start to Washington State’s apple harvest doesn’t seem to be making too much of an impact for overall apple dollars.

Brianna Shales, Communications Manager, Stemilt Growers“October is National Apple Month, and the latest set of Nielsen retail scan data tells us that retailers definitely got behind the celebration, even though the later harvest in Washington State delayed promotions for a few key varieties,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt Communications Manager. “Though we are lagging on performance from October 2016, when apples harvested in Washington State earlier than ever before, apples were retailing at higher prices year-over-year, led by higher volumes of the high-priced Honeycrisp apple.”

Lil Snappers 2lb. Honeycrisp Pouchbag

According to a press release, Honeycrisp apples were hot in October, trailing only Gala in terms of volume sold, and was also the top variety when it came to dollars sold. Honeycrisp accounted for 27.7 percent of apple dollars due to its $2.48 per pound average retail price. Overall, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious rounded out the month’s top five apple varieties.

“It’s clear that Honeycrisp is the sought after apple, and retailers must continue to dedicate space and promotions towards this shopper favorite,” advised Shales. “That being said, it can’t be the only apple promoted as there are many shoppers looking for a value. Running multiple apple varieties on promotion, in a price range that fits every shopper, is the best way to keep your apple category healthy.”

Further date showes that SweeTango® was the top club apple variety for October 2017, showing a volume increase of 10.9 percent over last October. Like Honeycrisp, SweeTango® enjoyed a high average retail price at $2.22 per pound.

When looking regionally, the Central region took a majority's share, topping the national average at 8.2 percent of total produce department dollars. The East met the national average at 6.9 percent, while the West and South regions was just short. All regions were down in apple dollars from last October due to the later Washington State crop.

Bagged apples are once again showing growth in sales, with the percentage of apples sold in bags up nearly 3 percent over last October, and accounting for 35.8 percent of apple sales. Stemilt shared that this can be attributed to an increase of smaller-sized apples from Washington State, as well as typical bag supplies from other regions. The average retail price for bags in October 2017 was $1.45 per pound, up 7 cents from last year. The average price for bulk apples in October 2017 was $1.71 per pound, just 5 cents higher than last year.

“With apples from Washington State one to two sizes smaller on average when compared to last year, its great to see retailers put more emphasis on bags this early in the season. The higher retail price on bulk fruit will likely remain this year, and the opportunities for promotion will be centered on bags in order to drive more volume through the register,” said Shales.

All in all, three and five pound bags continued to be the dominant package sizes, Stemilt added, with a combined 75 percent of bag volume and 71 percent of bag dollars. The volume of two-pound bags rose from last year, but average retails for two pound bags dropped 13 percent, or by 30 cents. If this trend continues, Brianna warns, it could cause deflation in volume and dollars across the category as time goes on.

Stemilt's 5lb. Gala Pouchbag

“With tighter supplies on bulk fruit and the need to make up volume with bags, now is not the time to move down a size on bags,” finished Shales. “The three pound size matches well with the volume your once-a-week shopper would need, while five pound bags bring additional value to your category. Keeping the pedal down on Lil Snappers® 3lb. kid-size apple promotions, as well as Stemilt’s Apple Lover 5lb. bags is important as we look towards the New Year when healthy eating is top-of-mind for all shoppers.”

Want to see all these fruit facts in video form? Check out Stemilt’s Fruit Tracker Fast Facts above!

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Stemilt Growers

As the founding family of Stemilt, we’ve been farming apples, pears, and cherries in eastern Washington since the early...