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South Carolina peach crop shaping up nicely

By
Keith Loria

Peaches are one of South Carolina’s most important crops, and in most years, the state grows more peaches than any other besides California, contributing about 17,000 acres to the industry.

“Our peaches are known for their sweetness and excellent flavor, and South Carolina’s location means lower transportation costs, better freshness and more convenience for buyers,” said Katie Pfeiffer, market development coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. “This year’s South Carolina peach crop is shaping up nicely, with good volume. Some natural pruning earlier in the season likely improved fruit size. We’re excited for the season to begin and feel optimistic about the merchandising opportunities.”

As consumers feel more comfortable shopping in person, there is an immediate need to meet their demand for local through adequate supply, promotion, and merchandising of the peaches. The department is already talking to retailers about how they can strategically promote South Carolina peaches.

“In 2020, Southeast grocery chains only carried an average of 18.7 percent Eastern peaches vs. Western throughout the season,” Pfeiffer said. “However, we have consecutive years of data proving that aggressively promoting and merchandising Eastern peaches during peak volume and holidays results in higher category sales overall.”

A diverse selection of peach items (packs, varieties, etc.) historically has meant increases in overall sales.

“Traditional volume fill displays are always a great way to promote peaches, and we think they will be key this year,” Pfeiffer said. “Pairing peaches with center store products — such as cobbler mix — can also influence consumers to make impulse buys. We know that using specialty packs in addition to bulk helps maximize consumer interest and create impulse buys to further category growth.”

The department also expect many digital merchandising opportunities on online platforms to drive peach sales.

“For some consumers, online grocery shopping has become a way of life, and strategic promotions can help inform those consumers that South Carolina peaches are the fresh, tasty choice,” Pfeiffer said.

During the pandemic, South Carolina saw a big increase in direct to consumer sales across produce categories and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture is hoping this translates at the retail level for 2021 as people feel more comfortable shopping in person and spending more time in the store and browsing displays.

“We think South Carolina peaches will resonate with consumers in 2021, signaling a return to brighter days,” Pfeiffer said. “Let’s work together to drive consumption of this healthy, delicious, Southern snack.”

 

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