Stemilt Reports Versatile Product Mix Will Elevate Apple Category
WENATCHEE, WA - We may be short a crystal ball in predicting what will fuel the produce aisle, but Stemilt is reading the future in the past with the return of its Fast Facts video series, in which numbers propel apples’ status in popularity. In fact, according to the grower, the more versatile the product mix, the better.
“We saw that retailers sold 1.5 percent more pounds of apples over the past three months when compared to the same time the year prior while dollars were flat, up just 0.7 percent. This shows us that gains in both dollars and pounds in the category is great, especially when two of the three months were a slower time in general for apples as we transitioned between crops,” Senior Marketing Manager Brianna Shales said, pointing to Nielsen data reviewing the last twelve weeks at retail ending on September 26. “Overall, we had good availability of apples during this timeframe and had been riding a COVID-19 wave where apple sales were up considerably more than this data set shows.”
But, the company pointed out, to ensure no single variety dominates the category—like Honeycrisp did over the last 12 weeks—it says it is crucial for retailers to carry multiple options.
“If retailers want to see category numbers increase, they should run multi-variety ads that feature multiple core values, as well as some standalone ads on premium varieties,” Shales explained. “Packaged apples are also a trending item and show great potential to move more volume at a stronger retail price while bulk apple sales are down.”
In addition to variety, Stemilt also advises to promote organic frequently. Focusing on core varieties and packaging options like Stemilt’s 3 lb Lil Snappers® kid fruit size packs is a great opportunity to elevate the category, according to a press release.
“Whether it’s organic or conventional, apples are an attractive produce item to grocery shoppers right now,” explained Shales. “Both in-store and online sets should represent that apples are in full season, and what better way to elevate the apple category than with Stemilt’s World Famous apples.”
According to the release:
- Honeycrisp led the category in recent weeks, doubling its dollar and volume pull
- Honeycrisp was up 17 percent in sales dollars year-over-year and made up nearly 1/3 of apple category sales
- Fuji grew in dollars by eight percent and nearly six percent in pounds, while the other varieties showed a decline in dollars
“While all five varieties [Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious] showed increases year-over-year, what is bothersome is the fact that we aren’t seeing that extra volume translate to more dollars for core varieties,” Shales commented, pointing out that data shows almost half the gain of Honeycrisp came at the decline of Red Delicious.
This, though, the grower pointed out, is more an opportunity than a negative. There is an opportunity for support from other core varieties like Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith, as well as new varieties, such as Rave® and SweeTango®, if the retailer wants to see the category elevate as a whole.
“It is important retailers focus on the 4Ps: product, placement, promotion, and price,” Shales said. “Apples sets should be front and center, and top of mind for consumers. Be sure that packaging is a decent part of your mix, especially during these COVID times since shoppers seek quick grab-and-go options.”
Packaged apples saw a large uptick due to COVID-19, with 37 percent of apple sales from bags compared to 33 percent last year. This, Stemilt shared, means retailers should be working with the grower to carry a multitude of bag options, especially 5 lb bag options that align with the current “stock-up” mindset since store trip frequency is down.
With peak apple season approaching and more varieties available, AndNowUKnow will keep an eye out for the latest in produce strategies on the supply- and buy-sides.