New York will have a nice, marketable crop of apples this year. We escaped serious freeze injury this spring, and when you look at the bloom dates this year, one could easily say, we are lucky to have apples on the tree at all.
Scattered low temperature did reduce the crop, down from last year’s 32.8 million bushel crop, but our growing season has been awesome so far. So, we are getting ready to peddle the crop—and earlier that ever before. Sparking the interest of retailers for fresh crop apples 10-18 days earlier than normal has been a challenge. As all marketers know, many decisions are made “According to Mac” and that would be the computer, not the apple. Ads are set, based on the ad date from last year, and it takes a lot of good marketing to change those easy habits.
Soft fruits will still be in high supplies, and moving apples to front of store, is once again determined by calendars, not supplies. Retailers are looking forward to the new apple crop, the increased volume of a larger selection of varieties, and, of course, the traditional back-to-school apple extravaganza that moves huge amounts of fall apples. Why? Simple—apples add more to the bottom line of produce departments than any other U.S. grown fruit product (had to throw the U.S. grown in there. It separates out that cheap yellow-category leader that starts with “B” [don't worry Kevin, I am not talking Bartlett's!], and retailers like big bottom lines!
Often we complain about not enough money getting back to the grower, and usually that is a valid complaint, but if the bottom line is weak at the retail level for our products, we don’t have a chance at the grower level. Certainly great taste and excellent condition is the key to increased retail sales and increased grower returns. Another national produce blogger recently reported about a disappointing purchase of apples at retail, and how that influences future purchases. We are all looking with keenness on the over-all size of the national apple crop this year, and if exports will increase along with national production numbers, in order to keep the domestic supplies in check. This year could be the first of many that we will be “anticipating” that scenario, and how the market will respond. Delighting our customers will be a key component to the success of that market.
Oh, by the way, for those who read this blog regularly, you may remember that my last entry was my “rant” on the present ‘State of the State’ here in New York. It is still a mess and I still have not gotten my $36.89 State Tax refund. I had planned to go on vacation this week. Oh, well, I guess I will have to buy bananas!