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
Photo credit: International Fruit Tree Association
Apples & Pears
August 5, 2016
Washington Apple Crop Huge, But Not A Record
The 2016 Washington apple harvest is predicted to be about 133 million boxes. Read More
IFTA Summer Tour New York 34
Apples & Pears
July 28, 2016
Seeing The Real Big Apple In New York On IFTA Summer Tour
Hot temperatures, lack of precipitation, mechanization, and high density production systems were among the highlights of the International Fruit Tree Association’s annual study tour. Read More
Feature Im-Perfect-Wal-Mart-Fruit-Apples (Photo credit: Walmart)
Apples & Pears
July 26, 2016
Walmart Begins Selling So-Called ‘Ugly Fruit’
Cosmetically challenged apples are the company’s first foray into a global movement to cut food waste. Read More
(Photo credit: Nancy Bosold, Horticulture Educator, Penn State Extension)
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In Pennsylvania
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
Treated pear in PGR trial
Apples & Pears
June 30, 2016
Pairing PGRs In Pears Helps Control Vigor
When it comes to a hearty variety like ‘Anjou,’ researchers see potential in using a one-two punch of PGRs to help control growth and ensure return bloom. Read More
embark cider works new york hard cider
Apples & Pears
June 21, 2016
New York Beverage Credits To Include Wine, Hard Cider
Credit allows wineries and cideries to reinvest savings in business. Read More
RubyFrost apple Group
Apples & Pears
June 21, 2016
Allen To Retire From New York Apple Association
Industry supporter to leave in January after 20 years with association. Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
August 29, 2016
Public Comments Now Accepted For ‘Arctic…
APHIS releases determination to extend deregulation to third release from Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 11, 2016
GMO Nonbrowning Fuji Apple One Step Clos…
USDA moves Okanagan Specialty Fruits' variety to nonregulated status; public comment period is forthcoming. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 8, 2016
Angry Orchard Debuts Cider Made From New…
Walden Hollow is named after cider house’s town and is all about fruit from the Empire State. Read More
Apples & Pears
August 5, 2016
Washington Apple Crop Huge, But Not A Re…
The 2016 Washington apple harvest is predicted to be about 133 million boxes. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 28, 2016
Seeing The Real Big Apple In New York On…
Hot temperatures, lack of precipitation, mechanization, and high density production systems were among the highlights of the International Fruit Tree Association’s annual study tour. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 26, 2016
Walmart Begins Selling So-Called ‘…
Cosmetically challenged apples are the company’s first foray into a global movement to cut food waste. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In…
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 30, 2016
Pairing PGRs In Pears Helps Control Vigo…
When it comes to a hearty variety like ‘Anjou,’ researchers see potential in using a one-two punch of PGRs to help control growth and ensure return bloom. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 21, 2016
New York Beverage Credits To Include Win…
Credit allows wineries and cideries to reinvest savings in business. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 21, 2016
Allen To Retire From New York Apple Asso…
Industry supporter to leave in January after 20 years with association. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 8, 2016
Pacific Northwest Pear Crop Expected To …
Tiny increase expected from Washington and Oregon over 2015, but crop will be lower than most recent years. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 8, 2016
Mexico Will Not Add Duties To Washington…
Country determines imports from the U.S. did not hurt the domestic industry. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 1, 2016
Biotechnology Aids Orchard Management
We’re studying how genetics and branch growth can help prepare your orchard structure better for mechanization. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 30, 2016
Is Your Orchard Ready For Mechanization?…
Automation is on the horizon, and it would be beneficial if you’re planting with that in mind. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 29, 2016
Orchard Systems Matter With Mechanizatio…
“It takes years to turn orchards from a big, wild 3-D tree to a narrow canopy — a lot of Read More
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
Washington Apple Commission Elects New L…
The commission board also approved the export budget of $7.7 million for the upcoming 2016-17 crop, based on a crop of 135 million cartons. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
How Best To Integrate Man And Machine
If you want to implement labor-saving mechanization, you should start the conversation with the end user – your employees. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 17, 2016
Customized Sprayer System Available For …
The new sprayers are designed specifically for timely, customized applications. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]