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

Featured Stories
Crop ProtectionAt Paramount Farming, Mating Disruption Pays Off
February 10, 2015
To say Brad Higbee is an expert in mating disruption, the use of pheromones to confuse target pests and reduce Read More
Crop ProtectionGrower Experienced In Biocontrols Says: Be Patient
February 4, 2015
The use of biocontrols in all aspects of agriculture is becoming more widespread. But incorporating biocontrols in a vegetable farming Read More
FruitsWorkshop Set In Florida To Help Grow Local Food Movement
March 2, 2015
Meeting part of nationwide effort to train people how to attain grants for USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion programs. Read More
Citrus18 Must-Have Apps For GenNext Growers
March 1, 2015
We asked about your favorite mobile applications, and here's what you had to say. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoGrowers Get The Lowdown On Cooling Crops
March 1, 2015
Demonstration shows how hydrocooling can help get the most out of fruits and vegetables once harvested. Read More
FruitsDon’t Be Afraid To Charge More For Value Of Agritainment [Opinion]
February 28, 2015
A higher admission price helps to sets a level of expectation and helps offset the costs of running a successful farm marketing operation. Read More
Apples & PearsCompany Responsible For First GMO Apples Is Sold
February 27, 2015
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the company behind the world's first non-browning apples, fetches $41 million. Read More
Stone FruitPeach Training Systems Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All
February 27, 2015
Although pedestrian, ladderless orchards are increasing in California, growers in Pennsylvania are opting for tall V-training systems. Read More
IrrigationNo Federal Water For California’s Central Valley Growers – Again
February 27, 2015
Skimpy snowpack leads Bureau of Reclamation to make unprecedented announcement that there will be a zero initial allocation for the second year in a row. Read More
Apples & PearsThe Recession That Keeps On Taking
February 27, 2015
We’re still seeing the aftermath of the Great Recession on consumers’ purchasing habits seven years later. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardSubmit Your Nomination For The 2015 Grower Achievement Award
February 27, 2015
American Vegetable Grower magazine's annual award is designed to recognize an innovative operation that represents the spirit of excellence. Read More
FruitsMaximize Produce Profits By Focusing On Soil Health
February 27, 2015
Cover crops are just one of the ways you can help boost your trees’ and vines’ performance and your bottom line. Read More
The Latest
FruitsWorkshop Set In Florida To Help Grow Local Food Movemen…
March 2, 2015
Meeting part of nationwide effort to train people how to attain grants for USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion programs. Read More
Citrus18 Must-Have Apps For GenNext Growers
March 1, 2015
We asked about your favorite mobile applications, and here's what you had to say. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoGrowers Get The Lowdown On Cooling Crops
March 1, 2015
Demonstration shows how hydrocooling can help get the most out of fruits and vegetables once harvested. Read More
FruitsDon’t Be Afraid To Charge More For Value Of Agrit…
February 28, 2015
A higher admission price helps to sets a level of expectation and helps offset the costs of running a successful farm marketing operation. Read More
Apples & PearsCompany Responsible For First GMO Apples Is Sold
February 27, 2015
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the company behind the world's first non-browning apples, fetches $41 million. Read More
Stone FruitPeach Training Systems Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All
February 27, 2015
Although pedestrian, ladderless orchards are increasing in California, growers in Pennsylvania are opting for tall V-training systems. Read More
IrrigationNo Federal Water For California’s Central Valley Grower…
February 27, 2015
Skimpy snowpack leads Bureau of Reclamation to make unprecedented announcement that there will be a zero initial allocation for the second year in a row. Read More
Apples & PearsThe Recession That Keeps On Taking
February 27, 2015
We’re still seeing the aftermath of the Great Recession on consumers’ purchasing habits seven years later. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardSubmit Your Nomination For The 2015 Grower Achievement …
February 27, 2015
American Vegetable Grower magazine's annual award is designed to recognize an innovative operation that represents the spirit of excellence. Read More
FruitsMaximize Produce Profits By Focusing On Soil Health
February 27, 2015
Cover crops are just one of the ways you can help boost your trees’ and vines’ performance and your bottom line. Read More
FNV logo
CitrusPMA Announces Funding For Major Produce Marketing Progr…
February 26, 2015
The produce industry is getting into brand marketing in a big way. The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has announced the launch of a new promotional campaign - FNV - designed to take a page from the marketing strategies of big-money consumer brands like Nike and Apple. Read More
GrapesWashington Winegrape Industry Announces Honors
February 26, 2015
Awards included Grower of the Year, Industry Service, Lifetime Achievement, Restaurant of the Year and Posters. Read More
GrapesSonoma Agriculture Preservation Plan Unveiled
February 26, 2015
Winegrowers’ 100-year business plan is the first of its kind in agriculture. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Plant Growth Regulator Use Expanded
February 26, 2015
Ten more states grant registrations for Fine Americas’ new Kudos PGR. Read More
Apples & PearsFrom The Road: IFTA Conference Day 5
February 26, 2015
Carlson lecture highlights where IFTA has been and looks to the next generation to continue the legacy. Read More
FruitsHave Faith In Science – Which Means GMOs [Opinion…
February 25, 2015
When it comes to farming, sticking with established, commonly accepted science is the way to go. Read More
Apples & PearsFrom The Road: IFTA Conference Day 4
February 25, 2015
Creating fruiting walls with mechanical hedgers can help increase light interception in the canopy, say researchers and growers. Read More
PotatoesPotato Grower Black Gold Farms Aquires George Wood Farm…
February 25, 2015
The transaction includes all production and packing operations.   Read More