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Stemilt to highlight Lil Snappers at SEPC show

For the 2017-18 Washington apple growing season, Mother Nature produced an abundance of smaller-sized fruit. As a result, that is where much of the promotional opportunities lie this season.

“It’s perfect for our Lil Snapper program,” said Brianna Shales, communications manager for Stemilt Growers, LLC, in Wenatchee, WA. “We will have ‘Lil Snappers’ as our main focus during the (Southeastern Produce Council’s) Southern Exposure show.”

Stemilt uses the brand to market several different commodities including apples, citrus and pears and a mixed fruit option well. Packaged in three-pound bags, the offering features kid-sized fruit. It is very popular as an organic option as it is aimed at children and moms appear to be especially partial to the organic option when buying fresh produce specifically for their kids. Shales said the abundance of smaller fruit has created some great promotional opportunities for the pack this season. The Lil Snappers bag is used with many different varieties.

Stemilt-5lb-Gala-Apple-Lover-1 That same preponderance of small fruit has also created promotional opportunities for other bagged fruit including Stemilt’s “Apple Lovers” five-pound bagged option, which is also available in several different organic and conventional varieties.

Shales said that the firm’s proprietary Piñata variety is another talking point that will be emphasized during the early March SEPC event. Piñata is a late winter variety that was developed in Germany and is the result of a cross of three heirloom varieties: Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin and Duchess of Oldenburg. According to Stemilt’s website, the apple was released commercially throughout Europe in 1986. In 2004, Stemilt Growers acquired the rights to grow and market the apple in the United States.

The name Piñata was adopted and trademarked in order to tie the apple’s two given names in Europe (Pinova and Sonata) with its exciting attributes. Stemilt markets it as having classic apple flavors with a tropical twist. While other apple varieties are skewing toward the small sizes, the firm’s communications manager said this season Piñata sized is the more normal range with a good selection of larger fruit.

Shales said the Stemilt SEPC team will also bring early information about the cherry crop. While the company’s Washington cherry crop won’t be in production until late June, the firm also grows cherries in California. “We start the California crop in May so by early March we will have some information to talk about.”

She added that Stemilt has significantly ramped up its organic production in all of the crops it sells and so that is an important factor in all discussions with the trade. In apples, at least one-third of the company’s output is organic and that percentage continues to increase each year.

As organic apples have become more prevalent, retailers have additional choices with regard to merchandising. Shales said that while the committed organic shopper often likes to see all the organic items in one section, by displaying all the apple SKUs together, there is a greater chance that the occasional organic consumer will cross over, especially as the price gap between conventional and organic narrows. Retailers have different philosophies when it comes to merchandising. Shales said the key is for the retailer to know their own customers and do what works best for them, and do it well.