Ray Norwood, director of sales and marketing for Auvil Fruit Company Inc. in Orondo, WA, believes a broad range of varieties appeals to consumers, but growers and retailers need to provide more education for consumers.
“The problem for retailers is to decide how many varieties to put on the shelf and what will catch the eye of consumers,” he says. “A lot of the new varieties are red apples—what will make them standout?”
Sally Symms, vice president of sales and marketing for Symms Fruit Ranch Inc. in Caldwell, ID, says her company connects with consumers through in-store tastings via the Idaho Apple Commission.
The grower-shipper also promotes its apples through Idaho Preferred, the state’s branding initiative. “It gets the consumers buying apples and thinking about where they come from,” she says. “Consumers want local.”
Stemilt Growers LLC in Wenatchee, WA, is revamping its packaging to be more eye-appealing and to compete with salty snacks that feature bags with colorful graphics.
“Apples were always put in these three-pound poly bags which look like glorified garbage bags,” says Roger Pepperl, marketing director. “We’re competing with bags of chips that aren’t good for you, but people don’t always eat what’s good for them. We have to have better packaging.”
In this vein, Stemilt is targeting different market segments through packaging. It offers both kid-sized organic apples in a three-pound pouch and a five-pound pouch with a mix of organic varieties.
The larger pouches not only increase volume but sales as well, Pepperl says. They also respond to need for convenience and snacktime, offering consumers several grab-and-go options.
“People are eating five to eight times a day and most are snacking,” Pepperl says. “They’re not sitting at the table. We can’t afford to miss many snacking opportunities.”
This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.