FirstFruits Farms' Aimee Peters and Chuck Zeutenhorst Detail End-of-Year Apple Market
PRESCOTT, WA - It’s no secret that apple volumes across the industry have been lower than years past, but companies like FirstFruits Farms are ensuring buyers won’t be feeling the loss. I spoke with several members of the team to get a better outlook on the state of the apple market and the company’s ability to supply promotable volumes.
“We have a lot of apples to sell,” began Aimee Peters, West Coast Business Development Manager. “Just because we have a reduction in the state’s overall fresh production in 22/23 doesn’t mean that there aren’t promotable volumes of apples across all varieties. We ask that our partners continue to engage with us about these promotable volumes. We have taken great strides to strengthen our marketing toolkits for both proprietary and mainline varieties. Other commodities in the fresh department are showing some weakness in the market, so it’s a great time to use our data-backed marketing and merchandising strategies to continue to grow their categories.”
Chuck Zeutenhorst, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, remarked further on the state of the market.
“The market is fairly steady with promotional opportunities available in all varieties. For example, FirstFruits Farms’ Opal® apple production continues to grow every year, given the consumer demand. We have promotional volumes of Opal 2 lb pouch bags available since we’ve seen the market trend toward packaged product,” he noted. “We are seeing this trend because of the effects of the pandemic and an increase in e-commerce grocery shopping. We also have FOB options on USX for retailers that want to offer deeper discounts.”
Chuck also told me that even though there have been reduced volumes, the quality reported is excellent.
“One hundred million fresh boxes are still significant, but we were expecting a more normal volume in the 120 to 125 million area,” he explained.
As for pricing, Aimee Peters had a quick note to share.
“Pricing overall is slightly higher than last year’s FOBs. With a shorter Honeycrisp and Gala crop, we’re emphasizing Cosmic Crisp®, as the volumes have increased,” the Business Development Manager for the West Coast remarked.
In addition to high-quality fruit and promotable volumes for certain crops, FirstFruits Farms also works alongside its retail partners to help them discover new and different areas of our manifest to create sales opportunities.
“This can be through the use of new sizes, grades, and consumer packages,” Aimee emphasized. “On a partnership level, we are prioritizing our customers during this season by providing category management/data analytics services as part of our strategy to lighten the load that falls on retailers’ shoulders. We are running a full-fledged, season-long consumer campaign around Opal apples that includes new content like recipes, the establishment of National Opal Apples Day that occurred on December 9, influencer partnerships, social media advertising, and more.”
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