Apple dollars up, Granny Smith expected to gain momentum
In the last 12 weeks apple sales were up and accounted for 6 percent of produce department dollars on a total U.S. basis.
“Apple dollars went up another percent over the last 12-week period which is pretty striking and good to see,” said Stemilt Merchandising Manager Jocelyn Gerard. “We know that has to do with some of the inflationary factors and supply and demand."
In the Midwest region, apple were 6.7 percent of total produce dollars. On the flipside, apple volumes were driven down 1.74 percent nationally by a smaller national crop compared to the same time period last year. Due to a smaller crop and food inflation, apple dollars are up nearly 8 percent nationally in just one year. Organics were 12 percent of apple category volume nationally and 16 percent of category sales during this period. In the Northeast region, organics were 15 percent of apple volume and 20.5 percent of sales during this period.
“The total produce department is holding steady at 6 percent of total produce sales,” said Stemilt Marketing Director Brianna Shales. “When we looked at the top varieties, we saw that these numbers remained unchanged. We did see some amazing double-digit growth in Red Delicious and Pink Lady apples with dollars up 40 percent on Pink Lady compared to a year ago at this time.”
The top six apples by volume pounds sold were Gala at 22 percent of apple pounds sold, Honeycrisp at 19.7 percent, Fuji at 11.6 percent, Granny Smith at 10.7 percent, Red Delicious at 9.2 percent and Pink Lady at 5.6 percent. All varieties experienced dollar sales lift because of rising apple retails. Cosmic Crisp was the No. 12 apple nationally over the past 12 weeks. It was 37 percent up in volume in the Northeast region and up 25 percent in volume in the South region compared to a year ago. Granny Smith is down in volume by 6.9 percent year over year but has opportunities for promotion to help retailers move more volume, while still enjoying the elevated retail price over last year.
“Granny Smith apples were up in dollars 4.4 percent but down in pounds almost 7 percent,” said Gerard. “This is a really strong time for Granny Smith as far as supply and quality goes and that can be concerning because last period was a similar type of direction. I want to call out Granny Smith as a great option for retailers to promote right now to capture some of those bulk sales that they’ve been winning at so far this season.”
Retailers could see category lift through consistent promotions of Granny Smith apples and other core varieties to balance out some of the volume decline. Bagged apple retails have grown two times as fast as bulk driven by supply and demand over the last year. When looking at bags, the three-pound size drives 70 percent of apple volumes that sold in bags nationally and 29 percent of total apple pounds sold. Nationally, 58 percent of apple volume pounds sold were bulk while the remaining 41 percent was in bags
“Over the past quarter, when I’ve done store checks in the Chicago metro area, I see a lot of bulk mainline apples on ad,” said Gerard. “I see them on front tables, and I see bag items treated more like a staple with definitely a higher everyday retail than what we saw last season. The demand we’ve had on bags has continued from COVID-19 and tightened up the supply and elevated retails. This presents an opportunity for bulk to be promoted which is great since there’s good supply.”
Bag retails have increased 12.2 percent in one year and now average $1.63 per pound. Bulk retails have grown 5.6 percent in one year and now average $2.05 per pound. The average retail for apples is $1.87 per pound. Bags have remained in high demand due to multiple factors including consumers seeking convenience and ease of merchandising at retail.
“As we migrate into the spring and selling months for apples, it’s important to keep up with promotions, but to focus on bulk fruit,” said Shales. “Bulk is an important dollar driver to the category and offers the best opportunity with the crop that remains.”