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Peaches are losing at retail. What can we do?

peach truck
The Peach Truck, which started as a direct-to-consumer subscription, has gone retail.

That perfect, juicy, sweet, ripe peach is something I dream about all winter. I absolutely go feral when the peaches are good.

The problem? The peaches at the store often…aren’t good.

Somewhere along the way of trying to extend the season, shelf life, transportability, cold chain, price points, profits, and all that … we lost the plot of peaches needing to be delicious on a day-to-day basis.

Don’t get me wrong – there are entities all across the supply chain doing their best to make sure the peach I get at the store is the flavor I’m hoping it’s going to be.

But we all know here’s a problem.

Consumers know there’s a problem. Per capita peach consumption is at the lowest its been in decades. I’m not sure what data they’re pulling from because I’m not Statista subscriber, but this chart is pretty damning. They’re saying fresh peach consumption has dropped from 5.3 pounds in 2000 to 1.94 pounds in 2022. That’s alarming.

Circana says fewer than 50 percent of households buy peaches, but it’s still big business. The total fresh peach market was worth more than $700 million last year – and that was a disastrous year for the crop in a lot of the growing regions.

There have been innovations. The Peach Truck started in 2012 to cut out the supply chain problem, bringing peaches directly from a refrigerated truck to a consumer’s car. You take them home and let them come up to temperature over a few days and in my experience their fruit has been some of the best eating I’ve had in years.

The bad news for me is that The Peach Truck cut Austin off its tour this season. I was super bummed about it but their emails are persistent, telling me I can just buy direct and have them shipped to me for the low price of $60 for a baker’s dozen. If you’re doing the math on that, it’s just shy of $5 for a single piece of fruit.

That’s a far cry from the 25-pound box I was buying for $50 a few years ago.

But wait, was there hope? My husband works near the original H-E-B Central Market in Austin, and guess what he found this week?

The Peach Truck has gone retail.

We picked up a mini box for $10, a price that still seems steep (the boys and I did the math and it was more than $5 a pound – about $2 per peach), but I’m willing to pay it if the experience is amazing.

Unfortunately, our experience wasn’t that great. We let them soften on the counter for a few days and everything smelled amazing, but when we tried the fruit the sugar just wasn’t there. We tried them up against some South Carolina peaches I bought on sale at the H-E-B in my neighborhood, and they were about the same.

My amazing peach experience suffered the retail curse.

And before you come at me with “wHy DiDn’T yOu BuY lOcAl?” I have. I buy Texas peaches at the grocery store too, and they’re also often mealy and inconsistent.

It looks like other retailers are trying a similar promotion. Kroger is doing a limited-time offer of 12-pound crates of Georgia peaches for $20.

They’re available in exclusive events in select markets across Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

I’m going to have to get someone in one of those markets report back to me on how the fruit tastes.

For now, I’ll go back to sniffing my way through the displays, trying to find the needle-in-a-haystack piece of ripe deliciousness.


Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.