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Organic Apples On a Roll

Columbia Marketing International (CMI) reports that organic apples continue to be in high demand, fueled by record sales in U.S. supermarkets. For the apple season that began Sept. 1, 2013 through Feb. 22, 2014, data from Nielsen Perishables Group finds that organic apple sales at retail surged by 20.4 percent over the same period last year alongside a volume spike of 21.9 percent.

“We really see the growth being driven by expanding sales in conventional supermarkets,” said Mark Hambelton, Wenatchee-based organic sales manager for CMI. “There is more space allotted at retail, more products on the shelf consistently and supermarkets are really developing a strong base of consistent organic shoppers.”

Organic apple sales have led in retail performance through the entire 2013 season. Season to date, conventional apple volume sold in supermarkets for the total U.S. increased by only 2.4 percent, with sales declining by 3.7 percent due to lower market pricing. “Organic apple performance is all the more impressive when we see that for the total category, it’s organics and brands that are raising the bar for the category,” says Hambelton.

Hambelton said organic apples have benefited from significant increases in product assortment and distribution. “It hasn’t been that long ago that organic apples were limited in space with only one or two items available for sale,” he said. “Today it’s not uncommon to see six, eight or more unique organic apple varieties and packages for sale in supermarkets every single day.”

Hambelton credits the growth to stronger marketing programs offered by shippers like CMI as well as the development of organic brands for retailers to utilize. “Organic brand growth is really changing the marketing dynamics for supermarkets. Just like in center store, consumers respond to brands and they look for names they trust. Daisy Girl Organics is CMI’s official organic label and it has continued to grow each year.”

CMI officially launched the Daisy Girl organic two pound Gala pouch bag last fall and Hambelton says, “It’s already the number one selling branded organic apple bag nationally.”

Looking ahead to the fall selling season, Hambelton says CMI is planning for increased production of Daisy Girl organics. “With the success retail supermarkets are having this year with branded organic apples, we think this will really set the stage for strong growth next season."

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