( Courtesy Stemilt Growers )

Lower retail prices for Honeycrisp apples helped fuel volume gains of 22% for the variety in January.

That is one observation from Stemilt Growers' latest episode of Fast Facts The Cast. , available on YouTube.

The “video podcast,” as Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers calls Fast Fact The Cast, provides retailers with apple category analysis.

The latest edition reviews apple category performance in January, when volumes rose 1.8% but total apple sales sagged 3.6% compared with year-ago levels.

“Honeycrisp volumes were up an incredible 22% year over year in January, but lower retail prices on this consumer favorite made for a dollar increase of just 4.6%,” Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager at Stemilt, said in a news release. 

Shales said a large U.S. crop has led to some price deflation.

“Apples are in a period of deflation with a larger crop nationally this year,” Shales said in the release. “With more volume, Honeycrisp promotions should continue but retailers will want to look closely at their Honeycrisp strategy as we near spring to ensure they aren’t leaving dollars behind.”

January retail scan data shows the top apples by volume in the U.S. were gala, Honeycrisp, fuji, granny smith and red delicious, according to the release.

Gala and granny smith each had volume increases of about 1% compared with last year, and ample promotion opportunities remain for both varieties.

“Last year, we had a shortage of granny smith apples and this year we have a larger, and truly high-quality crop,” Shales said in the release. “The green holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, is an ideal time to promote granny smith but this variety is also a must to include in cross-category promotions monthly.”

Organic apple volume was up 10% in January, and organic sales were up 2.2% compared with a year ago. Organic apples accounted for 12% of the total apple category in January, according to the report.

Earth Day is April 22, and represents an opportune time to promote organic apples, she said.

“One idea is to carry a certain variety — like Pinata — only as organic. Promote organic-only varieties with the same gusto as conventional to build sales and delight your organic shoppers.”

Promoting multiple varieties and creating cross-category promotions make sense for the spring, Shales said in the release.

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