Organic Apple Growth Continues Stellar Performance As U.S. Crop Wraps Up

Columbia Marketing International (CMI) reports that organic apples continue to be in high demand fueled by record sales in U.S. supermarkets. According to data from Nielsen Perishables Group, for the apple season that began Sept. 1, 2013, through Feb. 22, organic apple sales at retail surged by 20.4% over the same period last year. Volume increased by 21.9%.

“We really see the growth being driven by expanding sales in conventional supermarkets,” said Mark Hambelton, Wenatchee-based organic sales manager for CMI in Washington State.“There is more space allotted at retail, more products on the shelf consistently and supermarkets are really developing a strong base of consistent organic shoppers.”

Organic apple sales have led in retail performance through the entire 2013 season. Season to date, conventional apple volume sold in supermarkets for the total U.S. increased by only 2.4%, with sales declining by 3.7% due to lower market pricing. “Organic apple performance is all the more impressive when we see that for the total category, it’s organics and brands that are raising the bar for the category,” says Hambelton.

Hambelton observed that organic apples have benefited from significant increases in product assortment and distribution. “It hasn’t been that long ago that organic apples were limited in space with only one or two items available for sale,” he said. “Today it’s not uncommon to see six, eight or more unique organic apple varieties and packages for sale in supermarkets every single day.”

Hambelton credits the growth to stronger marketing programs offered by shippers like CMI as well as the development of organic brands for retailers to utilize. “Organic brand growth is really changing the marketing dynamics for supermarkets. Just like in center store, consumers respond to brands and they look for names they trust. Daisy Girl Organics is CMI’s official organic label and it has continued to grow each year. CMI officially launched the Daisy Girl Organic two-pound Gala pouch bag last fall and it’s already the number one selling branded organic apple bag nationally.”

According to Hambelton, “Organic brand performance has been a proven model in packaged salads for many years. We really put an effort against developing our Daisy Girl Organic apples because the research clearly showed supermarket shoppers respond to organic brands and packaging. That’s exactly what’s happened.”

With the sales surge at retail, remaining supplies of U.S. grown organic apples are dwindling. “It’s really been a strong year for organics but the domestic organic apple crop is nearly sold out,” said Hambelton. “We think our success this year will really set the stage for strong growth leading into the fall harvest in 2014.”

Hambelton says CMI is planning for increased production of Daisy Girl Organics this fall. “With the success retail supermarkets are having this year with branded organic apples, we think this will really set the stage for strong growth next season. We’re already getting inquiries from retailers asking about Daisy Girl Organics for next season.

Source: Columbia Marketing International

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