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Driving Enhanced Performance in Produce

Stemilt’s new podcast offers fruit-forward category analysis
Stemilt Growers
Photograph courtesy of Stemilt Growers

Stemilt Growers of Wenatchee, Wash., and its category insights program, Fruit Tracker, has launched a video podcast series to share quick facts and analysis on top fruit category performance. In the first episode of "Fast Facts: The Cast," Stemilt Marketing Director Roger Pepperl and Senior Marketing Manager Brianna Shales look at U.S. apple category performance from October 2019.

“We’re rolling out this podcast-style analysis of category data to give retailers an easy way to digest facts that stood out to us in the latest set of Nielsen retail scan data,” said Shales in a statement. “Whether they watch or listen, it’s a fast and fun way to understand how the total category is doing. It also offers advice for making small, yet bold, changes to elevate the category going forward.”

The episode begins with a look at the overall apple category’s contribution to the total fresh produce department in October 2019 and compares it to the same time frame the year prior.

Apples accounted for 6.9% of U.S. fresh produce sales in October, down 0.2% year over year. The Midwest outpaced the national average with 8.6% of fresh produce sales coming from apples. The remaining regions fell just above or below the national average.

“October is still in that transition time for apples, but it’s also a big selling month for apples, and the harsh reality is that we need to see bigger volumes of apples sold,” said Shales. “Going big with promotions will help account for deflation in the apple category and help move the large crop that we have nationally this season.”

In looking at the top five apple varieties, Gala led the way and experienced a 3.6% increase in volume sold year over year. Honeycrisp was the No. 2 variety, yet sales were flat despite a larger crop of Honeycrisp this season. Fuji, Red Delicious and Granny Smith rounded out the top five and all saw sales decline year over year.

Stemilt, which sees all top five varieties benefiting from increased multi-variety promotions, recommends bigger displays, creative merchandising tactics and in-and-outs on larger pouch bag packs to push more volume through the register.

The first episode of "Fast Facts: The Cast" also features advice from Pepperl, a former apple buyer/merchandiser, who recommends that retailers focus on messaging the unique attributes of new and organic apple varieties to encourage increased trial and future purchase.

“The gas pedal isn’t there when it comes to organic apples, and presents a real creative promotion opportunity for retailers,” said Shales. "The retailers that do organics best will often have 20% to 30% of their apple sales coming from organics. With the largest organic apple crop in history, this is the year to reward loyal organic shoppers and entice new ones via promotions.”

To watch or listen to "Fast Facts: The Cast," click here.

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