Shorter U.S. apple crop reveals challenges, organic opportunities for retailers

During National Apple Month in October, apple sales typically peak nationally, generating the highest category contribution to total produce of any month during the year. The 2015 October apple category looks very different. Retail scan data just released by Nielsen shows supermarkets are struggling to maintain year over year category performance in the face of a smaller U.S. apple crop. The October monthly report from Nielsen shows the apple category declined by 7% in volume and 4% in dollars. Apple category contribution declined to 7.5% from 8.2% in October 2014.

“With a shorter crop both nationally and out of Washington State, supermarkets are really forced to be creative to increase sales”, said Don Patella, Regional Marketing Director for CMI. “Nearly all category growth is being driven by branded apples. A lot of retailers are seizing the opportunity while many others have yet to react to the unique opportunities presented with this crop.”

The Nielsen data shows that for the four-week period ending October 24 only three apple varieties made the top 10 nationally – Sweetango®, Ambrosia™ and Cripps Pink-generated increases in both dollars and volume. The shorter crop even impacted Honeycrisp which declined by 5.5% in volume for the month.

“The challenges in the apple category this year will be very unique,” says Patella. “Retailers will face declining volume and inflated retails. But more importantly, shifting consumer tastes and rising quality expectations means retailers really need to think creatively about how to tap into branded apples to stop dollar erosion by driving transactions upward into premium apples.”

Patella added that growth in organics continues to be the top growth opportunity for retailers. “Already this season organic apple sales have jumped nearly 6% while conventional apples sales continue to slide. The most successful retailers are leveraging organics to build transaction size.”

“Nielsen data shows that for the month of October, the number one selling branded organic apple in the entire category is CMI's Daisy Girl Organics™ 2 pound pouch bag, up an incredible 81% over a year ago. Our Daisy Girl program is in its third year of topping the charts in 2 pound organic pouch bag sales,” said Patella. “Organics are hot and Daisy Girl is even hotter.”

For more information:
Katharine Grove
Tel: +1 509.888.3427

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