Chelan Fresh's Mac Riggan Talks 2020 Vision
- by Chandler James
CHELAN, WA - 2020 has marked the dawn of a new day for everyone from consumer to producer. Between New Year’s resolutions and burgeoning fruit and veg programs, the industry has its hands full of promotional opportunities—and it’s only January! As a company that’s always pushing the envelope, I tapped Chelan Fresh’s Director of Marketing, Mac Riggan, to get a sneak peak at the company’s 2020 game plan.
“There are a lot of opportunities to sell apples in what I call alternative channels of distribution—places like Dollar General that typically sell hard goods at low margins, but are starting to get into some of the higher margin perishables,” Mac explained. “One of our focuses is to be aware of the different channels where there's an opportunity. However, it's not as easy to service those channels as it is to service a Safeway or a Walmart, who's used to handling perishables. We want to nail down what those channels are, identify those opportunities, and then address the challenges with servicing them.”
Beyond the retail shelves, Chelan Fresh is also looking at its supply to achieve year-long success. The company’s exclusive variety, the Sugarbee® apple, has received overwhelmingly positive customer feedback, as well as the company’s iconic Rockit apples. Mac continued, explaining that the Koru apple is kicking into high gear with a promotional push to span over the next few months. He also divulged that the company is already thinking cherries, although the season is still five months out.
“We still have pears to sell too, so we're working on some unique preconditioning. It involves some packaging and testing, so we're looking into new opportunities that involve preconditioned Anjou pears with some select retail partners to see if we can revitalize the pear category,” he added.
Like any of us with some skin in the game, Mac also spoke of organics at Chelan Fresh. While success in this category continues to grow, the company is looking into packaging initiatives to solve common challenges that go hand in hand with selling organic fruit.
“We've been developing more of our own in-house organic volumes to service growers. We've had a pretty good push on the packaging side of it, which is kind of contradictory when it comes to organic,” he began. “So much organic fruit gets misrung at the register and it ends up becoming shrink, so a lot of retailers have been pushing for more packaging that clearly identifies the product with a UPC code. Typical organic customers don't want packaging, but retailers can't afford to have product getting misrung all the time, because not only do they lose money at the register, but then they're reordering based on scan data. It's a challenge that we're working on with the retailer collaboratively to try and make sure that that doesn't happen.”
Will 2020 be the year that produce prevails and organic programs are optimized? My bet is yes, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on Chelan Fresh as it all plays out. The year is young, folks! So, keep on truckin’ with us here at AndNowUKnow.