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Apple volumes rise, dollar sales decline

DRC-5lb-Pinata-Pouch-Stemilt

Apple volumes rose nationally (up 1.8 percent) for the second consecutive month yet continue to show decline in dollar sales (down 3.6 percent) over last year. Stemilt revealed these facts and more in its latest episode of Fast Facts The Cast. The video podcast provides retailers with apple category performance stats and analysis based on Nielsen scan data from January 2020, compared to the same time the year prior.

“Honeycrisp volumes were up an incredible 22 percent year over year in January, but lower retail prices on this consumer favorite made for a dollar increase of just 4.6 percent,” said Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager at Stemilt. “Apples are in a period of deflation with a larger crop nationally this year. With more volume, Honeycrisp promotions should continue but retailers will want to look closely at their Honeycrisp strategy as we near spring to ensure they aren’t leaving dollars behind.”

The top five apples by volume in the U.S. during January were Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Granny Smith and Red Delicious. Gala and Granny Smith each had volume increases of nearly 1 percent year-over-year, but a difference in crop years makes those figures stand out.

“Last year, we had a shortage of Granny Smith apples and this year we have a larger, and truly high-quality crop,” said Shales. “The green holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, is an ideal time to promote Granny Smith but this variety is also a must to include in cross-category promotions monthly.”

The spring months are historically some of the best months quality-wise on apples, Shales noted. It’s also a period of transition for growing regions on some berries with seasonal items, like cherries, yet to arrive in stores.

“This opens the door for apples and makes cross-category ads a great idea for ensuring produce sales grow during the late winter and early spring months," she said. "Promoting multiple varieties on ad will increase that volume rise and give the category a boost.”

Organics were a brighter spot for the apple category in January 2020 with volume up 10 percent and dollars up 2.2 percent. Organics made up 12 percent of apple category dollars in January 2020.

“Earth Day is April 22 and a natural time to promote organic apples,” said Shales. “One idea is to carry a certain variety — like Pinata — only as organic. Promote organic-only varieties with the same gusto as conventional to build sales and delight your organic shoppers.”

Stemilt is also encouraging retailers to spread out their apple displays during the spring months. The company unveiled a new pop-out orchard display last week in partnership with Produce for Better Health Foundation and their Have a Plant consumer call-to-action. The display will help retailers give more space to apples while promoting the fruit as part of a plant-based diet.

“Plants are super trendy with consumers right now, and the produce department is home for a wide variety of fruits and veggies,” said Shales. “We’re looking forward to seeing these bright displays in stores, and hope they inspire shoppers to enjoy an apple a day the Have a Plant way this spring.”

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