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New York Apple touts local buy to consumers

By
Tim Linden

As October winds down so too does the New York apple harvest. The crop is expected to be on par with the five-year average that offers plenty of promotional opportunities for Northeast retailers.

“Since product is still being packed it is too early to determine pack outs, but I can state that our production will be around 29 to 30 million (cartons),” said New York Apple Association President and CEO Cynthia Haskins.

Apple grower-shippers in New York are located within proximity to many densely populated cities, which gives them a great opportunity to emphasize the local nature of their production. “Consumers continue to gravitate to locally-sourced food,” she said. “The New York Apple Association has seen an increase in signage request for ‘Buy Local New York state Apples.’” 

She added that the association is focusing its consumer campaigns around “supporting family farms” in its commercials as well as its social media content. Haskins added that it is the flavor profile of the various New York apples that “sets us apart from all the rest. Our rich glacial soils and climate make for some of the best-tasting apples anywhere and we are engaging with consumers on those messages.”

This season NYAA is debuting two new video commercials. The first one focuses on apple picking and farm store experiences, and the other features New York apple growers in the orchards and consumers enjoying the fruits of their labor at their favorite retail store. The commercials play on the traditional enjoyment many consumers have experienced visiting local apple orchards. But when they are unable to do so, they can also enjoy a shopper experience at their local retailer buying local apples. 

“Both of the commercials bring a sense of homegrown to wherever a consumer sources their apples, whether it is apple-picking experience at a New York State apple orchard or grabbing a tote of apples at their favorite grocery store,” stated Haskins.

She revealed that NYAA starts promoting New York apples as the early varieties are picked in August and continues throughout the year as apples are being pulled from controlled atmosphere storage. “We typically start off the year promoting the fall apple harvest and then when November and December come along, in addition to promoting bulk and bagged apples and apple slice usage ideas, we add baked recipe ideas that are always popular during the holiday season,” she said. “We also promote apple slice usage ideas for the holidays.”

Kelly Springer, NYAA’s registered dietitian, is utilized to dish out some healthy tidbits to go along with the how-to-healthy recipe videos NYAA created, which are made available to retailers so they can place them on their social media and digital platforms. There are more than 40 how-to-recipe videos available. NYAA also posts videos through its social media platforms to bring a greater awareness of New York apples to consumers.

This year’s retail programs include custom point-of-sale material, bin-wrap and RPC wrap, new tri-wall with high-color graphics, tote bags, popup display shippers, cooperative circular advertising, sampling programs, digital couponing and making available social media assets for their retail partners. “We are working with retailers on building social media content that builds awareness for New York apples along with supporting retailers in their push/pull marketing plans for New York state apples,” Haskins said.  “We are inspiring repeat purchases with apple-centric social media posts. Our content focuses on flavor, how-to recipes, and our growers’ stories, and healthy and fun recipe ideas.”

NYAA utilizes the applesfromny.com website, which allows retailers to order and download the various sales aids the marketing organization offers. NYAA also developed a 12-page Dietitian Toolkit that includes nutrition content, preparation tips, and recipes for healthy dishes and includes complementary recipe cards and offer nutrition tips that are quick and easy. The Dietitian Toolkit was designed to help retail dietitians integrate the information into blog and social media posts, and virtual and in-person classes. 

NYAA display units are a popular item and they are again being made available to give retailers a convenient setup and easy merchandising opportunity.

There has been an increase in bags sales across all product lines during the coronavirus pandemic, which fits well with NYAA’s tote bag program. “The totes are great for driving impulse sales and perfect for waterfall merchandising, seasonal specials, and front-of-store displays,” said the NYAA CEO.

Haskins noted that NYAA is making a greater effort to connect with consumers through its promotional programs. “As an association, we are shifting our focus from bringing consumers to us, to reaching out to consumers. We want to meet people where they are in terms of the places they hang out, the things that they’re doing, what their interests are, how their diets are trending, and how we can complement their choices,” she said.

 

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