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
Apples & PearsHot Temps, Hot Topics Served Up During IFTA Summer Tour
July 21, 2015
  The first day of the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) summer tour in Washington State focused on the Pasco-area Read More
Apples & PearsCornell University To Host First Fruit Tour For Spanish-Speaking Employees
July 14, 2015
The Cornell Cooperative Extension, Lake Ontario Fruit Program team will present the first summer fruit tour for Spanish-speaking employees. This Read More
Apples & PearsPenn State University To Present IPM Scouting Program For Young Growers
July 13, 2015
Penn State University Extension will present a networking session for young growers featuring hands-on training on scouting orchards for insects, Read More
Apples & PearsWildfires Damage Washington Fruit Businesses
June 29, 2015
More than 1,000 people have been forced to evacuate as a fast-moving wildfire swept into Wenatchee, WA, on Sunday night Read More
Apples & PearsWhy We’re Breeding Apples For Climate Change
June 26, 2015
The Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry is ready for climate change. That is not saying we welcome its inevitable progress, just Read More
Apples & PearsHow USApple Made A Push For USDA Bonus Buy
June 24, 2015
In response to a request from USApple, (USDA announced what is expected to be the largest single purchase of apples Read More
Apples & PearsDon’t Neglect Overwintering Fire Blight Cankers
June 22, 2015
Canker blight has been seen in Pennsylvania orchards, thanks to ideal weather conditions as of late. Kari Peter of Penn Read More
The Latest
Apples & PearsReTain Now Registered For Double Application
July 31, 2015
ReTain plant growth regulator (PGR) has been registered by EPA with a new label use that allows pome fruit growers Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves New 1-MCP Technology
July 30, 2015
EPA approved Fysium, a new 1-MCP product from Pace International LLC. Considered new technology, this product is produced on-site by Read More
Apples & PearsResearch Is Vital To Keep Asian Apple Export Markets Op…
July 29, 2015
With the large domestic production of U.S. apples in recent years, Asian export markets (China, etc.) are vital. This is Read More
Apples & PearsHot Temps, Hot Topics Served Up During IFTA Summer Tour
July 21, 2015
  The first day of the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) summer tour in Washington State focused on the Pasco-area Read More
Apples & PearsCornell University To Host First Fruit Tour For Spanish…
July 14, 2015
The Cornell Cooperative Extension, Lake Ontario Fruit Program team will present the first summer fruit tour for Spanish-speaking employees. This Read More
Apples & PearsPenn State University To Present IPM Scouting Program F…
July 13, 2015
Penn State University Extension will present a networking session for young growers featuring hands-on training on scouting orchards for insects, Read More
Apples & PearsWildfires Damage Washington Fruit Businesses
June 29, 2015
More than 1,000 people have been forced to evacuate as a fast-moving wildfire swept into Wenatchee, WA, on Sunday night Read More
Apples & PearsWhy We’re Breeding Apples For Climate Change
June 26, 2015
The Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry is ready for climate change. That is not saying we welcome its inevitable progress, just Read More
Apples & PearsHow USApple Made A Push For USDA Bonus Buy
June 24, 2015
In response to a request from USApple, (USDA announced what is expected to be the largest single purchase of apples Read More
Apples & PearsDon’t Neglect Overwintering Fire Blight Cankers
June 22, 2015
Canker blight has been seen in Pennsylvania orchards, thanks to ideal weather conditions as of late. Kari Peter of Penn Read More
Apples & PearsCornell Cooperative Summer Fruit Tour Will Be June 17
June 10, 2015
The 2015 Cornell Cooperative Extension Lake Ontario Summer Fruit Tour in Western New York will be held significantly earlier than Read More
Apples & Pears2015 Fresh Pear Crop Estimate Released
June 10, 2015
Nearly 451,000 tons of fresh pears are expected this year, which equates to 20.4 million standard boxes. These figures, which Read More
Apples & PearsMillions Of Washington Apples Dumped
May 29, 2015
Monster crop, port slowdown blamed for tremendous waste of apples. Read More
Apples & PearsSolve Your Labor Problems From Within
May 26, 2015
Summer is here, which means harvest season is just around the corner. Hopefully you’ll have the crews you need this Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On Record Purchase Of Apples
May 26, 2015
Recently USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service announced the purchase of 34.9 million pounds of fresh apples and 16.1 million pounds of Read More
Apples & PearsGrants Available For Farmworker Education
May 19, 2015
Grants are available for farmworkers and their families interested in attending adult educational programs through the Washington Apple Educational Foundation Read More
Apples & PearsApple Scab Alert
May 18, 2015
Kari Peter of Penn State University Extension warned growers of possible apple scab and fire blight infections following the rainy Read More
Apples & PearsMichigan State University To Host Field Day At Clarksvi…
May 15, 2015
Michigan State University (MSU) will hold a field day on June 23 at Clarksville Research Center, 9302 Portland Road Clarksville, Read More