Performance results for U.S. supermarkets released this week by Nielsen Perishables Group show a strong start for the Ambrosia variety. For the month of October, the Ambrosia volume sold in U.S. supermarkets jumped by 74%. Volume for the total apple category during October was essentially flat, (+0.7%) while volume for the top three U.S varieties (Gala, Red Delicious and Honeycrisp) all declined.
Apple marketing has been more challenging for retailers this fall as the large U.S. harvest has driven FOB and retail prices down, say officials at CMI. With overall apple volume flat while retail prices have dropped (-7.6%), the result has been a decline of the total apple category dollar performance in supermarkets.
“The apple category is under pressure,” says Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI. “With the large U.S. harvest, falling prices puts deflationary pressure on retailers. We’re seeing the big increases in sales of branded apples like Ambrosia play a bigger role by helping retailers maintain category profitability in a deflationary market.
“The average non-promoted price for apples over the last four weeks in U.S. supermarkets was $1.55 per pound. The average non-promoted price for Ambrosia was over $2.00 lb. It’s pretty easy to see why retailers win when they offer higher-priced branded variety apples as a vital part of the category in addition to lower priced conventional varieties,” adds Lutz.
The report from Nielsen Perishables Group also indicates that there were nearly 10% more apple items on retail shelves and available to consumers. The data shows that for the month of October the average retail supermarket carried more than 35 unique apple items per store per week.
The supermarket sales data also reveals that consumers are especially responsive to retail price promotions on new apple varieties. On average the dollar lift on a promotion was 36.6% for the apple category as a whole. The promotional dollar impact was considerably stronger on varieties like Honeycrisp and Ambrosia.
“The data shows that the average Ambrosia promotion drove a dollar lift of over 75%,” says Lutz. “That’s more than double the average lift for the total apple category and it shows the important role that retail promotions play in introducing these new apple flavors to consumers.”