Bags, display contests and pricing are all part of the retail segment of the Eastern apple deal this year.
“We have lined up a tote bag program that gives the retailer the ability to have move of the farm-fresh product,” said Kurt Schweitzer, president of Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc.
“We have several programs, from the ultra-regional peaches to Eastern apples. That has shown double-digit retail growth consistently over the last four years.”
The Fishers-based New York Apple Association works promotions with regional retailers, said Jim Allen, president.
“We do a lot of direct promotions,” he said.
“We have in-store promotions, in-store demos, in-store signage. A lot of new electronic promotions are becoming available, where we do scan promotions and kiosks.”
Targeted marketing is part of the plan, Allen said.
“You walk into a store and swipe your loyalty card and we identify that customer and can target that customer with specific coupons,” he said.
“The machine knows this person typically buys another variety of apples that doesn’t grow in New York. We target that person to buy one of our varieties with that coupon.”
Sometimes, promotions require only simple tools to get the consumer’s attention, said Tim Mansfield, sales and marketing director of Burt, N.Y.-based Sun Orchard Fruit Co.
“They have signage,” he said. “Beyond that, you have people working with retailers, working with the association on promotions.”
Matthew D’Arrigo, vice president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., New York, said that while working with retailers is a challenge, tools like the Internet have helped.
D’Arrigo Bros. offers a full line of fresh produce online and relies on independent stores as its core customers. They’re a secondary source for larger stores, “when they run low,” D’Arrigo said.
Wolcott, N.Y.-based Teeple Farms works through a co-op packinghouse in its retail business, said John Teeple, owner.
“Empire Fruit Growers and New York Apple Sales markets the fruit for us,” he said.
“As far as marketing goes, New York Apple Sales works a lot with the retail trade and the New York Apple Association is the growers group and sets up a lot of promotions. One of the things that has always works is tastings. If we can get somebody to taste an apple, especially a new apple, they usually buy it. It’s expensive, but it works.”
The Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program, Harrisburg, is working to get large retailers onboard with its program, said Karin Rodriguez, executive director.
“We do it in conjunction with the National Apple Month contest, which runs from September through November,” she said, pointing out that October is National Apple Month.
The Pennsylvania organization also relies on product demonstrations in stores, Rodriguez said.
“We hire a demo company to come in and they’ll do a variety the retailer chooses to promote, and they offer sliced apples to the customers,” she said.
Gardners, Pa.-based Rice Fruit Co. has an ongoing relationship with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., as well as other retail customers, said John Rice, the company’s president.
Rice said it pays dividends to identify the local origin of the fruit.
“The ones who promote the local aspect of it identify the product as coming from Rice orchards,” he said.
“Some use pictures of the four brothers who run this company. That seems to be the best way, when you try to establish a personal connection between the consumer and producers.”
Whole Foods has been particularly effective with the personal approach, Rice said.
“They invited their associates and employees to go out and actually see the farms of the local growers that they’re promoting,” he said.
“That’s the most effective method of all, we find.”
Some retail programs are customized, depending on their needs and their specific customer base, Lee Peters, vice president of sales and marketing with Wolcott, N.Y.-based Fowler Bros. Inc., said.
“We work with our customers on an individual basis so they can take advantage of all those promotion options,” he said.
“We’re firm believers in demos. We believe if you give people a taste of something, they’ll like it and, in turn, buy it. We encourage display contests. In fact, this year, we’re encouraging contests related to the health benefits of apples.”
Staff writer Chloe’ Robbins contributed to this article.