Stemilt reimagines bulk apple and pear sales with new tote bag
Stemilt has reimagined a long-time grab-and-go produce pack to provide retailers with an eco-friendly way to easily display bulk apples and pears. Available this fall, the new paper Farm + Famous pack features a positive message that “All Farmers are Famous,” is 100 percent recyclable, and carries How2Recycle labeling.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to the grocery shopping environment,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s senior marketing manager. “Huge increases in online shopping, fewer and faster in-store shopping trips, bigger basket sizes, and sales growth in the produce department as more people cook at home. With all of this in mind, we set out to create a sustainable package to help sell bulk — or random-weight — fruit in a way that is easy for retailers to merchandise and convenient for shoppers to grab and get on their way. The Farm + Famous paper tote checks all the boxes for selling bulk apples and pears in this uncertain environment.”
Each Farm + Famous tote bag will be filled with bulk fruit that has a PLU sticker on it for cashiers to ring-up at the register. The bag holds around four pounds of fruit and eight bags are packed in a Euro footprint box with a snap-on lid. Unlike traditional tote bags that are filled by produce department staff or by the shopper, the Farm + Famous tote eliminates additional handling and is ready to display and purchase as soon as it is set up on the produce floor.
“This is a huge benefit for retailers because it takes time to build apple displays and keep them full,” said Shales. “The Euro footprint that holds Farm + Famous tote bags will streamline the ability to move apples from truck to the produce floor, and eventually the shopping basket.”
Stemilt will pack individual varieties of apples, pears, or organics in the Farm + Famous tote bag. Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith and Red Delicious are the main apple varieties that Stemilt will pack for the program launch. For pears, Stemilt will start with summer varieties like Bartlett and Starkrimson before moving into winter d’Anjou and Red d’Anjou pears.
“We used a modern yet neutral design for the Farm + Famous tote bag so that it could be used to merchandise bulk apples, pears, or organic versions of these fruits,” said Shales. “This gives retailers flexibility to bring this item in and out to support promotions in all three categories this fall and winter.”
Apples sales have followed the produce department’s sales increase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Nielsen retail scan data, U.S. apple category performance was up in 3 percent in dollars and 6 percent in volume in the 12 weeks ending July 25, 2020 when compared to the year prior. Packaged apples were up 12.5 percent for conventional and nearly 30 percent for organic year-over-year, while bulk apple sales were down slightly.
“This data is encouraging and shows that the apple category has great momentum as we head towards peak apple months this fall and winter,” said Shales. “Apples are predominately sold as bulk, but a rise in bags has appeared during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Farm + Famous tote bag is a great solution for retailers because they can sell larger volumes of apples at a per pound price, while also meeting shoppers’ needs for a grab-and-go pack.”
The Farm + Famous tote bag also meets consumer demands for recyclable packaging. It features How2Recycle labeling that informs shoppers how to recycle the 100 percent paper-based package at home. Each bag includes the inspirational message that “All Farmers are Famous” to tie the fruit back to the land and celebrate food producers.
“Farmers really are famous and deserve the positive attention they’ve received from consumers since the COVID-19 pandemic started,” said Shales. “Stemilt’s founding family, the Mathisons, have farmed for a century and for six generations. The new Farm + Famous pack is a great way to show our appreciation for the people who grow our food.”