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Red delicious: the wrong punching bag?

The apple narrative as of late has gone like this: Honeycrisp’s popularity is rocketing to the top while red delicious has a more meteoric descent into oblivion.

But it’s not only Honeycrisp and red delicious we have to talk about when it comes to rising – and, more interestingly, falling – popularity in U.S. supermarkets.

I looked at the five-year change in frequency of ads by apple variety and found some interesting numbers. I also found it frustrating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t track club/proprietary varieties in its weekly retail report, because I know there are many out there garnering retail ad space. Some varieties, like the well-established Jazz, should have enough numbers of ads to track on this platform.

I digress.

Yes, yes, Honeycrisp has grown in ad frequency – a lot. This variety is worth talking about.

I pulled numbers for the 52 weeks ending in late November 2013 and 2018 for comparison.

Honeycrisp frequency of ads increased an astonishing 181% during that period, and it became a year-round ad item, to boot. In the 26 weeks ending in late August 2013, only 391 stores TOTAL had Honeycrisp on ad. That’s an average of 49 stores per week, but most weeks during that period didn’t have a single ad.

This year, there were more than 45,000 stores on ad during that time, an average of 1,732 a week. That’s a 3,435% increase of average number of stores on ad per week.

But let’s look at the losers in this equation. Red delicious is the punching bag of the apple category, and the produce industry’s focus on flavor as a selling point in consumption increase efforts overall.

Red delicious ads decreased 53% in five years, to an average of 1,300 stores on ad per week.

Another apple that isn’t getting a lot of press for its loss in popularity is the Braeburn. Ad frequency of Braeburn fell 66% over five years. It appears that the variety just isn’t keeping up with the flashier cross-breeds in its family, the Jazz and Envy.

Fuji, another solid flavor option in the apple category, also has decreased in ad frequency over the past five years, down 18% overall.

But hello, golden delicious. We may talk a lot about the fall of red delicious, but of the top varieties out there, goldens saw a 71% decrease in ad frequency over five years, from an average of 1,507 stores per week to a dismal 432.

Not surprisingly, Granny Smith and gala continue to gain ground. Granny ads are up 23% and gala ads are up 21% over the past five years.

Here’s an overall look at ads in the apple category.

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.