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WENATCHEE, WA -- Forget the chocolate and flowers. Stemilt Growers is giving Valentine's Day a healthy makeover this year with Pink Lady apples. Colorful display bins, point-of-sale signage and a great manifest of premium quality Pink Lady apples are all available to retailers in order to build a successful Valentine's Day-themed promotion centered on this niche variety.

The 2010 growing season and harvest produced the best crop of Pink Lady apples Stemilt has seen in recent years. "Pink Lady is the last variety harvested in Washington state, which makes it more susceptible to cold temperatures and frost," Stemilt Marketing Director Roger Pepperl said in a Jan. 20 press release. "This year, the late fall weather was beyond favorable. Both organic and conventional Pink Lady apples came off the tree in the right sizes and with phenomenal eating qualities. There's no better season, or time of the year, to build consumer interest and excitement around this fantastic apple."

Pink Lady apples are recognizable by their vibrant pink color and tangy-sweet flavor. They were discovered in 1973 after researchers from western Australia's Department of Agriculture crossed Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apple varieties. Pink Lady was later trademarked and released for commercial production throughout the United States.

Aside from their vibrant color, Pink Lady apples are a perfect fit for Valentine's Day because the late winter months are when they peak on flavor. This is a very versatile apple -- great for fresh eating, slicing into salads or as the star ingredient in that final dessert course for romantic dinners.

To highlight both the health attributes of Pink Lady apples and their many culinary uses, Stemilt created a pop-up display bin for the apple back in 2010. The same black-and-pink display is back by popular demand for 2011 promotions. Pink Lady America's well-known “Flowing Heart” logo appears across the front of the display along with the catchy slogan “Eating healthy, feeling good.” On the side of the display, Stemilt placed three delicious recipes and health messages. Each display holds up to 80 pounds of bulk fruit or multiple bags. Corresponding p-o-s cards are included with each display to further merchandise the apples in the produce department.

Mr. Pepperl recommends that retailers plan ads on bulk and bagged Pink Lady apples in February, with at least one of those specials on organics. Organic three-pound bags make a great grab-and-go selection for the busy shopper, he noted.

"Building large displays and setting up multiple ads for your Pink Lady promotion will bring attention to the produce department during a time of year that is dominated by sweet treats," Mr. Pepperl said in the release. "Valentine's Day gives retailers a great opportunity to build sales around Pink Lady, a highly attractive and flavorful apple."