Analyzing Trends In The Apple Industry

The U.S. Apple Association’s annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference, which is held in Chicago in August, is a time when apple industry leaders meet to make their best determination of the year’s estimated crop size. But they use this opportunity for more than just forecasting numbers. It’s also a chance to look farther down the road and analyze the trends that will be driving the industry years from now, whether they are technology, communication, or consumer based.

During the 2010 conference, three different presentations were dedicated to these areas, with speakers from inside and outside the apple market. They each provided a glimpse of where the industry can and should be to remain sustainable and profitable in the coming years.

Keeping Track Of Consumers

The keynote speaker for the conference was Phil Lempert, otherwise known as The Supermarket Guru. Lempert has spent more than 25 years studying consumer behavior, marketing trends, and new products in the retail industry. You may have seen him on NBC’s “Today Show,” the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” or elsewhere.

There were a number of lessons Lempert discussed that were of relevance to apple growers, packers, and marketers. The following is a short list of just some of the observations he presented:

• About 90% of consumers base where they shop on the store’s produce department. If it’s clean, attractive, and the cost is affordable, it will move to the top of their list. For growers, this means making sure you have a good relationship with the retailers you work with and are in constant communication with them.

• “Local” may be prominent today, but when it comes down to it, people simply want to know where their produce is coming from. Most consumers understand that it’s not feasible to feed everyone with a locally grown food supply; they just want to know their food is safe.

• The iPad and its associated downloadable “apps” will be the next wave in educating consumers about health and nutrition. Tools such as Big Fork Little Fork from Kraft allow parents and their children to “have a blast in the kitchen with recipes, video how-to’s, and educational games aimed at getting the whole family to cook together, eat together, and live well together.” With some apps, parents can also scan products to read about nutrition information, compare prices with other stores, or rate their feelings on their shopping experience.

In addition to Lempert’s presentation, there were other discussions on new directions for the apple industry. For example, Alecia Dantico and Janet Helm of Weber Shandwick looked at the role of social media in building and sustaining consumer demand. If you want to reach anyone in the younger generation, this is certainly the way to go. USApple has already started down this path with the creation of a “fan” page on Facebook, and organizations such as the Almond Board of California and Florida Citrus Mutual are also active on both Facebook and Twitter.

Another highlight was a panel discussion on the apple market in 2020, which featured a review of new trends in technology (with a focus on robotics and genetics), consumer demand, sustainability, and apple slices. Speakers included Jim McFerson of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (and American/Western Fruit Grower “Tree Fruit” columnist, Steven Muro of Fusion Marketing; Roger Pepperl of Stemilt Growers; and Todd Silberg of McDonald’s Corp.

Questions To Ponder

So what does all of this mean for today’s grower? Perhaps Lempert summed it up best by offering the audience three questions they should ask themselves:

• What is the next big apple concept?

• What are three things you would like to know about apple consumers that you do not know already?

• What is the best retail innovation you have seen in the last 12 months that is not food related that you could bring home to apples?

You don’t have to be a major grower/packer/shipper to answer these questions in a way that is actionable for your business. Both large growers and farm marketers need to have their eyes on what consumers are looking for. They also need to be active in developing new and exciting opportunities that are designed to encourage repeat business from their customers.

Leave a Reply

Apples & Pears Stories
Fuji Orchard Washington
Apples & Pears
January 28, 2016
Washington Association Donates $750,000 To Food Safety
Contribution is part of a five-year pledge to support research at the Center for Produce Safety. Read More
Weeds in strawberry for web
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application Approved for California Orchards And Vineyards
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
Arctic Apples logo
Apples & Pears
January 19, 2016
Okanagan Specialty Fruit Seeks USDA Approval For Arctic Fuji
Arctic Fuji is the next release in the nonbrowning apple series. Read More
An over-the-row small fruit harvester passes over cider apple trees at WSU Mount Vernon, WA. (Photo credit: Carol Miles, WSU)
Apples & Pears
January 16, 2016
USDA Funds Robotic Research In Orchards
Projects seek to create cost-effective automation of harvest and orchard tasks. Read More
Exporting goods
Apples & Pears
January 15, 2016
U.S. May Begin Accepting European Pome Fruit Exports
USDA wants comments on rule to allow imports of apples and pears from countries that industry expert says have discriminated against U.S. fruit for the past half century. Read More
(Lisa Norwood photo)
Apples & Pears
January 12, 2016
Apple Producers Named In Antidumping Ruling
Mexican government requires duty payments following antidumping investigation stemming from a petition filed in 2014. Read More
Connect_meeting_2015_web
Apples & Pears
December 28, 2015
FruitGrowerConnect Solves Growers’ Problems One On One
More than 35 grower and supplier operations gathered at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego in November for Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
February 9, 2016
State Of The Fruit Industry 2016 [VIDEO]
According to an national poll of fruit growers, fruit industry suppliers, and researchers, the market is poised for growth in Read More
Apples & Pears
February 2, 2016
Fine Americas Introduces Next Generation…
New formulation of Exilis 9.5 SC is five times more concentrated than previous product; it's also easier to pour, handle. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 2, 2016
Midwest Apple To Be Marketed Abroad
Midwest Apple Improvement Association signs agreement for international development of its first release. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 28, 2016
Washington Association Donates $750,000 …
Contribution is part of a five-year pledge to support research at the Center for Produce Safety. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application A…
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 19, 2016
Okanagan Specialty Fruit Seeks USDA Appr…
Arctic Fuji is the next release in the nonbrowning apple series. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 16, 2016
USDA Funds Robotic Research In Orchards
Projects seek to create cost-effective automation of harvest and orchard tasks. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 15, 2016
U.S. May Begin Accepting European Pome F…
USDA wants comments on rule to allow imports of apples and pears from countries that industry expert says have discriminated against U.S. fruit for the past half century. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 12, 2016
Apple Producers Named In Antidumping Rul…
Mexican government requires duty payments following antidumping investigation stemming from a petition filed in 2014. Read More
Apples & Pears
December 28, 2015
FruitGrowerConnect Solves Growers’ Probl…
More than 35 grower and supplier operations gathered at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego in November for Read More
Apples & Pears
December 21, 2015
CIDER Act Passes As Part Of The Year-End…
Passage benefits fast-growing, job-creating U.S. hard cider industry. Read More
Apples & Pears
December 18, 2015
USApple Applauds Repeal Of Country Of Or…
Passage of spending bill resolves trade dispute with Canada and Mexico. Read More
Apples & Pears
December 16, 2015
USApple’s “Apples For Education” Donates…
Social media campaign encouraged fans to upload photos and vote for nominated schools. Read More
Apples & Pears
December 15, 2015
New Website For Washington Apple Consume…
Washington Apple Commission’s revamped site will be available on smart phones. Read More
Apples & Pears
December 15, 2015
Nurseryman Elected To Washington Tree Ce…
C & O Nursery’s Gary Snyder will serve as committee chairman. Read More
Apples & Pears
December 15, 2015
Bacterial Disease Discovered At Oregon P…
Xylella fastidiosa, best known for infecting grapes with Pierce’s disease, has been found in U.S. pome fruit for what is believed to be the first time. Read More
Apples & Pears
December 8, 2015
Pink Lady Cider Now Available Through Ry…
Hood River Juice Company (HRJCO) is adding the Pink Lady brand apple to its special Ryan’s Fresh Fruit Juices. According to Read More
Apples & Pears
December 8, 2015
USA Pears Launches Month-Long Marketing …
USDA has officially declared December as National Pear Month. Pear Bureau Northwest (USA Pears) is marking National Pear Month with Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]