Stemilt's Artisan Organic® Apricots Hit the Market
- by Jordan Okumura
WENATCHEE, WA – While last year held a historic early start for apricots, it is befitting that this year holds a late start for crops up and down the West Coast. Anticipated to start two weeks later than usual, Stemilt and its marketing partner, Douglas Fruit, are ramping up for another successful Artisan Organics® apricot season. Stemilt expects its organic apricots to start harvest in late June, with volumes ramping up quickly for promotable volumes throughout July.
“We’ve found a great niche in growing apricots organically that matches well with our flavor focus,” said Jill Douglas, Co-President of Douglas Fruit, according to a press release. “We farm in the best locale, Washington’s Columbia Basin, where warm days and cool nights create beautifully colored fruits with exceptional flavors. Artisan Organics® apricots really exceed standards thanks to the climate and organic farming practices.”
The growing roots of the Douglas family tree date back to the 1890s, and today the fourth generation is hands-on when it involves the family’s business, which includes apricots, peaches, nectarines, apples, and cherries. In 2007, the Douglas family started the transition process to move the majority of its apricot orchards to organic production, as well as the entire crop of peaches and nectarines, viewing the move to organic as an opportunity to differentiate the flavors of its stonefruits.
According to the company, Stemilt accounts for approximately 40 percent of Washington State’s apricot crop. Stemilt is also the leader in organic apricots, with 60 percent of its entire apricot crop grown and certified as organic. The leading variety that Stemilt produces is Robada. Robada has been strategically planted by the Douglas family and Stemilt because of its excellent eating qualities and vibrant color. The fruit has a firm texture and velvety soft skin that is accompanied by a balance of acids and sugars to make for an exceptional eating experience.
“Robada has grown to be a consumer favorite and for good reason,” states Roger Pepperl, Marketing Director at Stemilt. “With its orange skin and deep red blush, it is very appealing on produce shelves. Beyond its appearance, it’s by far the best 'cot for snacking with an explosion of flavor.”
Retailers should expect the peak of organic apricot season to begin in early July and plan for promotions during the first three weeks of July. Apricots are a great summer item for the organic category, and with organic food sales growing by double-digits annually, it’s an area that retailers must focus on, noted Pepperl.
Stemilt has a variety of packaging options for Artisan Organics apricots, including random-weight pouch bags, clamshells, panta packs, and volume fill. Including a display within the organic section is a must in July, says Pepperl, but apricots also find success on endcap and aisle displays.
During the peak time, retailers can utilize the story behind the fruit by sharing the Douglas family’s story in order to tell organic consumers where their fruit came from and how it was grown.
“Highlighting the Douglas family’s heritage and passion is a great way to focus your program as flavor-driven,” said Pepperl. “And being flavor-driven is the way to win over consumers, especially around seasonal items like our Artisan Organics apricots.”
How will the apricot season shape up this year? Stay tuned with AndNowUKnow as we keep you up to date.