Eastern apple suppliers say apples typically don’t require a lot of major promotions or fancy displays to increase sales, a trend that was especially true with this year’s supply shortage from Michigan and New York.
“Due to the scarcity of the product, the apples pretty much sold themselves,” said Peter Forrence, vice president of Forrence Orchards Inc., Peru, N.Y.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime year.”
Even in Washington, where supplies are much stronger, packers say apples are a staple in most grocery baskets.
Of course, even as a staple, promotions are helpful to drive sales in the early part of the season, said Ken Korson, who works in sales and marketing for North Bay Produce Inc., Traverse City, Mich.
“Especially in the fall, you have to capture a big part of the business or you’ll miss a big part of the season,” he said.
“It’s really important to get into those fall displays because you only have a two-month window of having apples right up front.”
Promotions and contests
Many apple suppliers still choose to offer contests and other promotions for consumers.
“February is apple month for us, so that’s an exciting time in terms of marketing and promotions,” said Chris Pollock, marketing manager for BC Tree Fruits Ltd., Kelowna, British Columbia.
This year, the company plans to rerun a popular promotion from last year that invites consumers to take a photo of themselves with their apple as a healthy, portable snack.
The online-based contest, called Good to Go, will give participants the opportunity to win a cash prize of $2,000, along with $2,000 for the charity of their choice, Pollock said.
Other companies are also running large promotions this year, including Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc., which has a large effort planned to promote the Piñata variety.
“We are doing display contests, demos, Lil Snapper Piñata bags, consumer beach towel contests, social media and guerilla marketing in regional areas of the country,” marketing director Roger Pepperl said.
Yakima, Wash.-based Sage Fruit Co., also has several promotions planned for the upcoming months.
“We teamed up with NBC in June and did some cherry promotions for their Biggest Loser show. Now we’re carrying it over into apples and pears,” said Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing.
The company has specially designed tote bags, display bins and a lot of social media interaction with consumers.