Winter provides an opportunity to highlight organic apples, but sales require dedicated support.
Chuck Sinks, president, sales and marketing at Sage Fruit Co., Yakima, WA, says winter is a perfect time to push organic apples because they’re at their peak availability and are perceived as a healthier option and work well for New Year displays.
Generally speaking, an organic consumer is seeking out organic items to fill their basket across the entire store. “Price is less of a factor in their purchasing decision,” Sinks adds, “however, a consumer that is just an occasional organic purchaser may add organic items if they are on sale.”
Separating conventional and organic apples in the department makes it easier for the organic loyalists to find what they are looking for, he continues, and “because organics retail at a higher price point, they do need a separate promotion.”
Organic apples are important, says Diane Smith, executive director, Michigan Apple Committee, because they make up to 15% of the total apple dollars. Separating organics is the popular trend, she adds, but having them close to the conventional apple displays “helps the organic produce consumer find the product quicker and easier.”
Audrey Desnoyers, national business development manager and sales manager at Oppy, Vancouver, British Columbia, says organic apples have been trending. “With a lot of different varieties, organic offerings can cycle through those new apples and keep a lot of excitement going. As well, folks who are shopping organic aren’t as price conscious, so premium new varietal apples can really appeal to those consumers.”
The need to properly identify organic products should be a priority, emphasizes Trish Taylor, marketing manager, Riveridge Produce Marketing, Sparta, MI.
“Organics are about offering choice to consumers,” she says. “Since it is about choice, consumers shouldn’t be in position to accidentally purchase organic when they intended to buy conventional for its cost, taste or region.”
Don Roper, vice president of sales and marketing, Honeybear Marketing, Brewster, WA, says organics play a key role, “as this is a customer set that, for the most part, is extremely loyal to organic food, willingly pays more for organic offerings and is a growing customer segment. You have to supply and market to this customer demographic in order to optimize, not just organic apple sales, but your organic produce P&L.”
He says that retailers can maintain the basic merchandising pattern of the larger department in merchandising organic apples, but a little extra kick can give sales additional lift.
Brianna Shales, marketing director for Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, WA, says organics deserve regular promotion attention, and “multiple varieties on ad at the same time to help lift the whole category.”
“Organic Honeycrisp is a big part of the organic apple sales,” Shales stresses. “If that’s not in the mix, retailers are leaving dollars behind. It’s also key to promote other premium organic varieties to give organic shoppers the quality and flavor experience they are seeking.”