CMI Orchards' George Harter Discusses Apple Category Success
WENATCHEE, WA - What do craft beers and apples have in common? This might seem a long leap, but it’s more of a hop according to CMI Orchards Vice President of Marketing George Harter. As we enter the dual season of apples and PMA Fresh Summit, he tells me that the numbers support branded apples much like the distinctive brands you’ll find in the adult beverage aisle.
"There might not be as many branded apples as beers, but we are having our own similar explosion because customers want a different taste. We give them that along with packaging that helps stand out in the produce department," George shares. "A big part of it, too, is to tell the story and why the brand stands out. Think about retail and craft beers coming up—we want to sell these apples and bring premium quality and stronger mix of retails to help strengthen their category, much like craft beers."
George describes CMI Orchards’ four tier approach delivering apple category success: "As our customers build their variety and mix, they have the ability to have price points at the conventional and organic core levels, plus—club conventional and club organics. Club organics offer an ultra premium option for customers looking for the best of the best."
This type of varietal mix offers retailers various price points and an extensive selection to help strengthen their apple category.
George says that CMI offers America’s largest selection of premium branded varieties like Ambrosia, Smitten®, Jazz™, Envy™, KIKU®, Kanzi®, and Pacific Rose™. Of the seven CMI-grown branded apples, six are in the top nine and all seven are in the top fourteen in the U.S. domestic market (Nielsen, 52 weeks ending May 26, 2018). He adds that CMI works with sub-licensees Rice Fruit Company and Applewood Orchards Inc. to grow and market KIKU, Applewood to grow and market Kanzi, and works with the Enzafruit alliance to grow and market Jazz, Envy, and Pacific Rose.
"We represent, essentially, all key apples in the branded category," he sums up. "Ambrosia finished number one in the branded apple category, with Jazz at number two, and Envy at number three. And of course, we’re proud that KIKU moved up to number seven and has really moved up in terms of sales. Overall, we’re really excited about the momentum coming out of spring and what we are going into coming into this season."
Not a bad place to be as we approach one of the largest industry events of the calendar year. When I ask George what attendees can expect at this year’s Fresh Summit, he tells me the company has a lot to surprise everyone with.
"Our Daisy Girl Organics™ is the number one organic apple brand in the U.S., and the Ship n’ Shop bin we unveiled last year for the brand has been very successful. It’s easy to build a beautiful display, and now we’ve added new life to it which will fit with our customers private label retail plans," George shares, adding a teaser for us all.
"We also have an exciting promotion coming to enhance and differentiate some of our most popular items we have but can’t discuss just yet. Let’s just say that it will enhance our partnership with our customers and will help enact a plan to help reach consumers on a united level," George expresses.
Try as I might, he told me we will just have to wait until we are even closer to PMA Fresh Summit for more. To see all this for yourself, visit booth #2843, and stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we keep our eyes peeled for the latest in our countdown to Orlando, Florida.