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Online apple sales bring advantages

Although online grocery shopping has slowed down a bit as we’ve emerged from the pandemic, it’s still a booming sector with many opportunities, says Roger Aguirre, director of apples and pears for Oppy, based in Vancouver.

Responding to FreshFruitPortal.com email questions about the current status of the firm’s apple program, he cites several advantages to online shopping. A benefit in many cases is that retailers can offer more items online than are available in-store, providing additional varieties and taste profiles for their shoppers. It remains of utmost importance to highlight specific varieties and their taste profiles on online platforms to educate consumers.

Online sales also have the opportunity to highlight and advertise efficiently with hero banners that can rotate regularly, while in-store labor shortages might contribute to a lack of POS and ad material updates.

Aguirre is Jan. 20 notes that January is a great time to promote apple sales. “With January resolutions in full effect, and with increased healthy eating trends, all apples have a place in this winter period with heightened levels of consumption. As well, with kids returning to school after their winter break many parents are looking to translate those healthy shopping choices to their kids’ lunchboxes.”

He adds that, alongside bulk, merchandising apples in bags is an excellent idea in the fall and winter, with parents looking for smaller sizes for school lunchboxes. “This can change drastically in the summer months when in-season fruit such as peaches, nectarines, watermelon, etc. are occupying more shelf space.”

Oppy, which is properly known as the Oppenheimer Group, based in Vancouver, BC, encourages that its trademarked JAZZ and Envy apples are excellent year-round choices that are available in both bulk and bag formats. Oppy also offers Ambrosia, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Pacific Rose, Pink Lady, Royal Gala and Spartan in this winter period.

Asked if retailers should offer new varieties at certain times, Aguirre responds “Retailers are typically happy to launch a new variety any time of year. When Oppy has introduced apples from New Zealand or Chile, our retail partners have been keen to work with us in sharing them with their shoppers.

That being said, retailers are generally loyal to their local apple varieties and make their shelf space a priority first.”

He adds, “Today, we still see new varieties being introduced, but not to the degree we did in years past. Retailers are being much more selective and putting priority on supply to encourage repeat shoppers.” A number of years ago, a flood of new varieties was overwhelming the marketplace. When some retailers managed the influx of new varieties by featuring a new apple per month in one designated area, “it didn’t leave room for repeat customers to come back for a variety they took a liking to, creating some confusion about which apples where available when.”

Oppy’s marketing team is focused on promotions that move the dial at all times of the year. Oppy grower associate Turners & Growers (T&G) in Auckland, NZ, is attracting consumers to Envy apples for Valentine’s Day with easy, elegant recipes and a dedicated microsite linked to social media activity. Aguirre says retailers can utilize T&G’s creative on their social platforms and engage in consumer contests and giveaways. “Another excellent opportunity is to cross-promote with chocolate, floral and bakery for a lovestruck display.”

He adds that JAZZ is being promoted alongside Mardi Gras and “The Big Game” this quarter. The Super Bowl is played Feb. 12.

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