Hy-Vee Adds 'Pazazz' to Produce Departments

A new apple variety named Pazazz from Minneapolis-based Honeybear Marketing has helped leading retailers across North America and Canada boost sales and drive excitement at a time when seasonal apple sales typically slow sharply.

W. Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee has been a key retail participant in Honeybear’s varietal development program for the past three years. Bill Kelley, AVP and director of produce purchasing for the 235-store regional retailer, said that introducing new varieties is fundamental to Hy-Vee’s mission of bringing unique and healthy food items to their customers. “We want the produce department to be a primary destination for our customers to look for what is healthy, new and exciting. Pazazz fits the bill perfectly," notes Kelly, citing its "great color, firm texture and a burst of flavor that quickly brings customers back into the store for repeat purchases.”

Aside from Hy-Vee, Central Market, Cub Foods and Coborns have also created multi-tier Pazazz apple displays and sampling stations at premium front-of-store locations in order to increase consumer exposure to the new variety. POP signage included hand-drawn chalkboards, custom banners, and walls of Pazazz while in-store chefs and dietitians also prepared Pazazz recipes as customers sampled the new variety. 

“Pazazz definitely created excitement in our stores,” adds HyVee’s Kelley. “We look forward to adding new stores to the Pazazz program next season.”  

Originally developed by Doug Shefelbine from Holman, Wis., Pazazz is grown in Minnesota and Washington. Additional orchards in New York, Washington, Wisconsin and Nova Scotia, Canada will generate more volume to expand the scope of the Pazazz program. Following the positive response to Pazazz from consumers and partner retailers alike, the new variety will roll out nationally in 2016.

“It can take a decade to develop, grow and market a major new variety like Pazazz,” says Don Roper, VP of sales and marketing at Honeybear Marketing, the sales and marketing arm for Wescott Agri Products. “So when we introduce a new apple, we really want to make sure the apple performs in three key areas. It must provide a fantastic eating experience, be very appealing to the eye, and have a great name that really describes what you are eating," notes Roper, adding that Pazazz "has this winning combination."

Honeybear conducted Pazazz sampling in more than 125 U.S. and Canadian retail stores in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Ontario, Canada. Deliberately planned across a diverse geographical test market to develop a detailed picture of the new variety, the demos generated rave reviews from consumers and enthusiastic retailer support.

Harvested in late fall with a careful balance of sugars and starches, Pazazz flavor is ideal any time from late December onward as the starches convert to sugars, which Roper said gives the apple "a fabulous blend of high brix with a perfect complement of sweet and tart flavors, exceptional crispness and great texture."

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