Looking ahead to the 2013 crop, Lutz said the predicted larger U.S. crop — at 243 million bushels, 13% bigger than 2012 according to U.S. Apple estimates — should drive down prices in the battle for shelf space. While the best apple consumers are not driven by prices, Lutz said they will trade down when given incentives.
“Purchase behavior is determined by what’s on the shelf,” he said.
The experience of the 2012-13 season reveals that apple variety trumps growing region more than ever before.
Higher values created last season can be sustained by shelf discipline, variety control and price management, Lutz said.
“It is not the varieties — it is the right varieties,” Lutz said. “We have so many fabulous new varieties that can add dollars to the category, in my opinion,” he said.
Retailers can ask premium prices for premium products.
“I think we had great lessons this year that consumers are willing to pay us for the quality we have,” Lutz said.
Lutz also informed attendees he’s leaving Nielsen at the end of August but declined to say what he would be doing next.