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DILLSBURG, PA -- The National Apple Month program has announced the winners of its fall 2008 National Apple Month retail and military display contests, concluding the very successful apple industry's generic promotion.

The annual contest, which jump-starts the domestic apple industry's marketing season, provided retailers and the apple industry with increased sales and gave consumers easy access to great-tasting, good-for-you apples and the participating partner products Marzetti "Caramel Apple Dips" and Smucker's "Natural Peanut Butter."

"The contest allows retailers to use domestic apples from across the country to provide consumers [with] quality apples, and when combined with the creativity of produce managers in building the displays, it's a success for everyone," NAM Director Kay Swartz Rentzel said in a Feb. 19 press release. "The national partners, Marzetti and Smucker's, provided produce managers with an opportunity to cross merchandise with another section of the store and create greater impulse sales from their customers." Ms. Rentzel went on to say that these established companies were perfect partners for the promotion since their products complement apples.

Vying for more than $10,000 in prizes in the display contest were retailers and military commissaries from across the country. From September through November, entrants built displays in their stores that prompted consumers to buy more apples, apple products, Marzetti "Caramel Apple Dip" and Smucker's "Natural Peanut Butter." These displays helped boost sales and increase bottom-line profits.

Consumers were treated to nutritious and delicious American apples, processed apple products and tie-in products during the launch of the industry's 2008 marketing season. Retailers had innovative display themes that included locally grown freshness, back-to-school, apple harvest days, National Apple Month and fall crunch time.

Michael Royer, produce manager at Oregon Dairy in Lititz, PA, submitted the winning entry for stores with 10 or more registers. His entry was all about apples: how long it takes to produce apples, where apples come from and the benefits of adding them to one's diet.

The display was up for 30 days, included 20 different varieties of fresh apples, and sold more than 129,000 pounds of apples. Additionally, the store sold more than 60 cases of Marzetti "Caramel Apple Dip" and nearly 50 cases of Smucker's "Natural Peanut Butter."

In addition to providing consumers with valuable apple information, the store experienced sales lifts of more than 22 percent in apple sales, nearly 30 percent in "Caramel Apple Dip" sales and 9 percent in Smucker's peanut butter sales.

Capturing first place in the division of stores with nine and fewer registers was Foodland in Lebanon, PA. Entry coordinator Keith Fetterholf used a locally grown theme of "From Our Farms to Your Family" when he built his winning display.

Foodland saw apples sales lifts of 35 percent over the previous year, due in part to the 11 varieties and more than 500 boxes of apples sold during the promotion. Processed apple products, Marzetti "Caramel Apple Dip" and Smucker's "Natural Peanut Butter" all experienced double-digit sales increases.

Lackland Air Force Base Commissary in Texas took the top honors in the military commissary division. The display featured National Apple Month with the health message of "One apple a day keeps the doctor away!"

According to Sun Hui Giacobbe, entry coordinator, sales of apples, processed apple products, Marzetti "Caramel Apple Dip" and Smucker's "Natural Peanut Butter" each experienced sales increases of more than 35 percent over the previous year - a major accomplishment since the commissary captured first place for the second consecutive year.

Entries were evaluated on the volume and variety of fresh apples displayed, the volume and variety of processed apple products, grocery tie-in products displayed, the use and volume of Marzetti "Caramel Apple Dips," the use and volume of Smucker's "Natural Peanut Butter," display creativity and cross merchandising with other store departments.

"Year after year, the National Apple Month contest is successful on all fronts; everyone wins with National Apple Month," Ms. Rentzel said in the press release. "Apple marketers use the promotion to kick off the harvest season and boost early-season shipments. Retailers use it to increase consumer sales and awareness, yield additional profits for the produce department and creatively merchandise throughout the store. Our other team members -- Marzetti and Smucker's -- proved to be excellent partners by providing additional opportunities for promoting and merchandising apples and apple products with their products."

The merchandising promotion continues to attract participants, and this year was no exception. More than 900 retailers and military commissaries participated in the contests.

"Once again, the fall display and merchandising contest shows why NAM is a terrific tool for launching fall apple sales in a big way, both by increasing shelf space and varieties used in displays," Fred Hess, sales manager for Hess Bros. in Leola, PA, and chairman of the NAM committee, said in the release.