Research Shows Apple Category Volume Growth

Supermarket performance data for November released this week shows apple volume in supermarkets increased by 2.5%. Volume gains were supported by falling retail prices, which for the full apple category declined by 6.5%. According to data released by Nielsen Perishables Group, newer varieties like Gala and Honeycrisp are driving growth while older varieties like Red and Golden Delicious are losing ground. For the four week period ending 11/23/2013, Gala was the largest volume apple in U.S. supermarkets, increasing by 3% over the same period last year. Honeycrisp was the 2nd highest volume apple, jumping by 14%. “More consumers are selecting newer variety apples like Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji at the expense of some traditional favorites,” says Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI. “This is beginning to impact performance of legacy varieties like Red Delicious and Golden Delicious and even established varieties like Braeburn. For the four week period, Red volume dropped by almost 12% while Golden volume declined by about 8%.” According to Lutz, shoppers are increasingly seeking out apples believed to be high in flavor. “Consumers are more willing to pay high prices for apples like Fuji and Honeycrisp. But we’re seeing even stronger gains in high-flavor varieties like Pink Lady and Ambrosia. For the period, among the top 10 apple varieties nationally, Pink Lady and Ambrosia had the strongest percentage gains in volume. Pink Lady volume jumped by 44% while Ambrosia volume increased by 22%, despite supermarket shelf prices substantially higher than the category average. The apple category continues to become more complex, Lutz adds. “Increasingly, for retailers success hinges not only on knowing which apple varieties to put on the shelf, but also knowing which apples to emphasize in merchandising and which varieties should be dropped.”  


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