How Do You Like Them Apples? Consumers Do

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How Do You Like Them Apples? Consumers Do

04/04/2010
More than three out of four Americans believe that apples and apple beverages are both a “better-for-you” food and a convenient snack that can be eaten on the go, according to “Apples: The Next Superfruit,” a report based on a poll conducted by SupermarketGuru.com. Phil Lempert, a food, consumer and marketing trends analyst and CEO of The Lempert Report and SupermarketGuru.com, created the survey for the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association.

“Apples are a year-round fruit and consumer willingness to buy, eat and serve more apples is a vast opportunity for retailers,” said Lempert. “Merchants already display apples prominently as a stage-setter, but now they need to think further about how to tap into this mindset that apples are a ‘superfruit’ and great for a person’s health and overall wellness.”

SupermarketGuru.com conducted a national consumer panel between December 2009 and February 2010 in which a total 1,021 chief household shoppers discussed their beliefs about apples and apple products in relation to such issues as nutrition, health, eating habits and merchandising influences. The consumer panel is an opt-in food-involved population of over 94,000 shoppers that pre-registered with the site and submitted their confidential demographic information. Respondents to the apple survey were 84 percent female.

When asked to rate 10 individual fruits separately on a scale of one to 10, with one the most healthful), survey respondents chose blueberries, apples and pomegranates, with 64 percent giving apples a one, two or three rating on the one-to-10 scale.

This high perception of healthfulness shows that consumers are aware of apples’ multiple nutritional benefits. Females (87 percents), most of them baby boomers (72 percent age 50 and older) were in the forefront of respondents who rated apples a one on the health scale. A majority (51 percent) said they spend $81 or more a week on groceries for a two-person household. But the income group that rated apples as most healthful was lower-income: 28 percent of respondents earned $25,001 to $55,000 annually per household.

“This is interesting, because blueberries and pomegranates are higher-priced food options,” noted Lempert. “We suspect one reason why the lowest-income tier of $25,000 and under wasn’t among the percentage leaders in this survey is the continued under-serving of their neighborhoods by supermarkets — which means they have less access to fresh produce. This also fits in with the paradigm that lower-income households tend to be more obese.”

Nine out of 10 consumer survey respondents strongly agreed with the question: “If you or someone you know is trying to eat healthier in 2010, have you considered apples and apple products as a regular part a healthier diet?”

Additionally, nine out of 10 respondents believe:

—Apples and apple beverages, especially those with the peel on, are rich in plant compounds called polyphenols and antioxidants, both known to b healthful. (92 percent)
—Apples and apple products may help with weight loss. (89 percent)
—Eating apples and apple products daily can help lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or “bad” cholesterol levels, and defend against heart disease. (85 percent)

When informed that scientific evidence supported health statements about apples, overwhelming majorities of adults who took the survey said they would buy and serve apples to their families and visitors more frequently. According to Lempert, “The magnitude of their response reflects their desire to eat healthfully — and the ability of apples to help them do that because of their nutritional makeup, portability, affordability and accessibility.”

He adds: “There is a terrific merchandising opportunity here. [Retailers] can put apples and apple products throughout the stores. Seventy-eight percent of consumers perceive the bountiful display bins as the No. 1 way retailers promote the healthfulness of apples and apple products. Results also showed consumers were hard-pressed to name other tactics used to promote a healthfulness message.”

In response to the survey results, U.S. Apple Association president and CEO Nancy Foster said: “This groundbreaking report helps the American apple industry connect with their customers by better understanding what they’re thinking and how to communicate with them about enjoying this delicious ‘superfruit’ in all of its forms — fresh or processed.”