Gala and Honeycrisp apples saw respective retail volume increases 3.4% and 2.5% in December compared with year-ago levels.
 
That was one of the findings in Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers LLC video analysis of apple category performance in December, according to a news release.
 
Called Fruit Tracker Fast Facts, the report said that the most recent Nielsen retail scan data shows that the central U.S. region had the best apple category performance in December, with the region scoring apple sales that accounted for 7.3% of total produce department sales.
 
For the U.S. as a whole, apple sales in December equaled 6.7% of total produce department sales, up 0.3% from December 2015.
 
The top five apple varieties sold in December were gala, Honeycrisp, granny smith, fuji, and red delicious, according to the release.
 
“Volume increases on Honeycrisp and gala tell us that promotions were in place on these key varieties in December,” Brianna Shales, Stemilt communications manager, said in the release. Shales said bulk promotions are important this year because of larger fruit size in Washington.
 
“Missing even one multi-variety ad can result in a dip in apple category performance, and with a produce department contribution of nearly 7%, that’s not something retailers can afford to have happen,” she said in the release.
 
The average retail price for apples in the U.S. in December was $1.62 per pound, according to Nielsen statistics. Bulk apples represented 63% of volume with an average retail of $1.74 per pound; bags made up about 37% of the volume sold and featured an average retail of $1.41 per pound, according to the release.
 
In the bag
 
Of the fruit that is bagged, Nielsen data reveals three-pound bags accounted for 68% of volume, followed by five-pound bags with nearly 15% and six-pound bags at about 7%.
 
Stemilt offers popular multiple variety pouch bag options in both the three-pound Lil Snappers kid-sized apples and the five-pound Apple Lover packs, according to the release.
 
“Spring is an important selling season for apples, and as it nears, retailers need to make sure plans are in place to keep every aspect of the category healthy,” Shales said in the release. “Promote bulk, bags, and organic while available to keep apple sales moving upwards.”