(Aug. 26) Apples may be available year-round, but they are at their best from September through November when newly harvested. Give your customers lots of choices because the more apples you supply, the more you’ll sell.

MORE IS BETTER

Apples remain a traditional favorite and are an essential part of our diet. There are about 2,500 known varieties of apples grown in the United States, but more than 7,500 are grown worldwide, according to the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va.

The California Apple Commission, Fresno, advises retailers to give customers a maximum choice of varieties and package options and display apples in varying colors to attract customer attention. Kenton Kidd, president of the commission, says to best display apples, retailers must refrigerate them after the first of the year because they will deteriorate rapidly if not.

Bill Snyder, produce manager for a Washington, Pa., Shop N Save, one of three stores owned by DuritzaEnterprises, likes to set up three to four tables together in front of his store. He features gala, golden delicious, granny smith, fuji and braeburn, along with other varieties, for $1.29 per pound.
He says his store makes a big push for apples in the fall. In the off-season apple sales are 10 percent of department sales,but increases a fair amount as the store runs a lot of ads and sales in October.

Jimmy Houston, produce manager for Sun Harvest, one of 13 stores in San Antonio-based chain, says that he sells 12 varieties of bulk apples, with galas being the most popular. He also sells 3-pound bags of red delicious apples. His buyer places a new crop of Washington apples on special for 69 cents a pound; regular price is 89 cents a pound.

“When our gala apple is on ad, we build a huge display of them and throw in another variety not on ad for a color break,” Houston says. The store goes through about four to five cases a day when they’re on special.

Marty Sarver, assistant produce manager for the Monroeville, Pa., McGinnis Sisters, one of two stores, says that he offers only loose apples and sells at least 20 to 30 cases per week. The store merchandises apples from Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market, Loganville, Pa., and Washington state apples. The farm apples range in price from 99 cents to $1.09 a pound, and the Washington apples are 99 cents a pound.. Sarver uses variety signs that highlight the type of apple, flavor and give description of the local Brown’s fruit.
“In the fall we feature Brown’s apples in wooden crates and carry their cider and apple juice in front of the store,” Sarver says.

PLAY WITH PRICES

Developing a pricing strategy that communicates value and excitement to your consumer is important.

Norm Carpenter, vice president of domestic marketing for the Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee, suggests creating a valuable message for varietals, such as the fuji, gala and braeburn apples. Varietals offer not only great quality, but unique flavors to attract new, nontraditional apple eaters.

At the same time, he recommends creating a consistent perception of your mainline apples. Mainline apples are favorites like the red delicious, golden delicious and granny smith, according to the WAC, but they must be available year-round in multiple sizes and always with different price points.

WAC research concludes that the most effective pricing strategy is tiered pricing, which communicates the right value of mainline vs. varietal and bagged vs. bulk to shoppers. It also can improve your bottom line by as much as 9 percent compared to line pricing. Mainline varieties may be priced at 99 cents a pound, while varietals are priced higher at $1.19 per pound.

It is no secret that apples represent a huge portion of profits. Mark Arney, president of the Michigan Apple Committee, DeWitt, says that the commissionprovides a number of variety cards, charts, bin wraps andother materials to retailers. Posting information on the uses of each variety helps consumers select the ones best suited to their needs, he says.
Peter Gregg, spokesman for the New York Apple Association, Fishers, N.Y., says that the association helps set up advertising for retailers and also provides point-of-sale material. The association offers a variety of merchandising tools as part of a comprehensive promotion package for retailers who promote Apple Country apples. A few of these materials are the full color, 11-by 7-inch price cards highlighting individual Apple Country varieties and another is the a 16-page full-color brochure that covers variety education, recipes, nutrition and storage tips.

Michigan apples should be placed in a primary location for the peak season, generally adjacent to citrus or pears where tie-in items like caramel apples and dips are placed,Arney says. Consider using secondary displays, cross-merchandising and pattern flow (alternating bags vs. bulk, by variety).
Carpenter says apples should be on the first table, in prime merchandising space as apples show a strong push for harvest in October. Apples are a foundation of total sales and have great appeal, he says.

Gregg says that retailers should give prominent placement of apples in their produce department. In the fall apples should be the first thing consumers see. He says that apples draw people in and creates a nice atmosphere.

When it comes to labeling apples with Price Look-Up numbers or Universal Product Codes, Snyder says he places codes on the bulk or loose apples and the bags have scanners. He finds it easy for consumers and employees to handle.

For the most part, consumers know that apples are healthful,but consider adding nutrition information to signs in a more dominant way.

Carpenter says that a lot of retailers are sticking with the signs that provide the required government nutrition information, which is very small in print. He wants retailers to make the health and nutrition information and also the variety of the apple more prominent to their signs. The WAC has developed a series of individual point-of-sale cards, each designed to highlight a Washington apple health benefit. The Standard POS kit includes 10 die cuts, one usage chart and one varietal sheet. They also provide 7-by 11-inch varietal cards that come in nine different varieties. Retailers should promote the nutritional benefits and the 5 a Day for Better Health theme through signs and brochures. For instance, one POS card from the WAC lists this benefit: “Antioxidants such as those found in Washington Apples and apple juice may help block the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This activity helps promote a healthy body.”
The Michigan Apple Committee has commissioned several studies on the nutritional aspects of apples that support the old adage “An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away,” A recent study by the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., showed that apples might be able to prevent prostate cancer, and other studies show the value of apples in fighting cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, Arney says.

Gregg says that the New York Apple Association’s number one priority is to promote its health benefit, which is fighting cancer and how apples are loaded with antioxidants.

JUICY SENSATION

One way to boost apple sales is to display them with apple juices and apple cider.

For Shop N Save’s Snyder, apple cider is a popular local item during the fall. He places fresh-pressed apple cider from Trax Farms Market, Finleyville, Pa., and caramel dip on display with a variety of apples in front of the store.

Sun Harvest’s Houston uses a separate table with apple juice and cider 5 feet away from a display of apples. Other Sun Harvest stores in San Antonio display the juice under the apple displays, he says. He also uses caramel dip to entice consumers by running the dip in between his gala and varieties like pink lady, red delicious and fuji.

McGinnis Sisters’ Sarver offers apple cider and juice from Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market. Brown’s cider season runs from mid-September through March. The company presses and pasteurizes its own apple cider and uses a special blend of many apple varieties.

Arney sees retailers placing apple juice in a row underneath apple displays so people can grab a jug and fresh apples at the same time, and says it has worked really well. The committee works closely with retailers in developing ad support programs, setting up display contests and in-store demos, and providing point-of-sale materials.

The Michigan Apple Committee has produced a brochure titled, “Apple juice pours with goodness” to inform consumers and retailers the benefits of this tasty drink. The brochure provides nutrition facts as well as other important information.

“Most retailers who put up displays say that when they include apple juice and cider they see their sales of all apple items increase,” Arney says.
Gregg says there is a lot of potential when apples are cross-merchandised with apple cider, juice and other apple products.

“The color of cider provokes nice feelings with consumers, and also its fresh pressed and delicious quality,” Gregg says.

The New York Apple Association has partnered with Motts Inc., Stamford, Conn., leading producer of branded applesauce and apple juice, as well as the T. Marzetti Co., Columbus, Ohio, in the past.

Heather Braun, consumer market and creative director for the Ultimate Juice Co., Basking Ridge, N.J., says apple cider is a good impulse item. The company was formed through the merger of six leading companies: Saratoga Beverage Group, M.H. Zeigler & Sons, California Day-Fresh Foods, Wiman Beverage Co., Orchid Island Juice Co. and Fantasia Fresh Juice.

Braun says the company carries 15 different ciders from 35 different states with the best source of apples. Cider is offered in 12- and 64-ounce and 1-gallon containers. Naked Juice smoothies also are available, she says. The smoothies range in three to four basic blends, and depending on the market, they are offered in 16-, 32- and 64-ounce containers.

In the past the company has promoted pumpkins with apple cider. When the consumer bought a pumpkin he or she would get 35 cents off the cider.

Sun-Rype Products Ltd., Kelowna, British Columbia, provides fruit-based products, including blended juices, nectars, applesauce and food snacks such as Fruit to Go, Energy to Go bars and new Fruit & Veggie bars. The company’s 100 percent pure Blue Label Apple Juice is the firm’s market leader. It is a not-from-concentrate apple juice that provides 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C per 200ml serving. Blue Label apple juice is packaged into a 6 liter bag-in-a-box container.

Sun-Rype has a long-standing relationship with B.C. Tree Fruits, international marketer of British Columbian apples. Magda Kapp, manager of public relations for Sun-Rype, says the company plans an Apple Month promotion during February in which it partners with B.C. Tree Fruits to sponsor s retail display contest.

Over the years they have included a variety of media support including television, radio, freestanding inserts, flyer advertising and on-line contests.

The 2002 promotion’s theme was “Fresh Out of the Gate,” and showcased Sun-Rype’s recently launched one litre recloseable juice packaging, new packaging graphics and new products, along with the freshness and taste appeal of B.C.’s fresh apples such as mcintosh and gala.