On Dec. 1, this year’s fresh apple holdings totaled 122.2 million bushels, a 16 percent increase from the same time last year, according to the December 2014 edition of the U.S. Apple Association’s Market News.
“Processing holdings totaled 44.6 million bushels, 3 percent above last year on Dec. 1,” said Mark W. Seetin, director, regulatory and industry affairs for the U.S. Apple Association. “The total number of apples in storage on Dec. 1 was 166.8 million bushels, 12 percent above last December’s total.”
He added that the 2014 U.S. crop looks to be one of the largest on record, with the highest quality apples harvested in several years.
“Fresh apple supplies are quite ample, and demand has been especially strong,” said Seetin. “The December Market News reports that apples are moving to the marketplace at a record pace as of early December.”
USApple’s overview of the industry reports that the U.S. has approximately 7,500 apple producers who grow nearly 200 varieties of apples on approximately 328,000 acres.
The 2013 crop estimate, at 248.6 million bushels, was the 10th-largest apple crop since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began keeping statistics on commercial apple production. The total farm-gate revenue, or wholesale value, of the U.S. apple crop is more than $ 2.7 billion each year.
Excitement is quickly and strongly brewing in other USApple news as well. In a Dec. 5 press release titled “Apple industry unites to increase sales,” Suzanne Wolter, chair of USApple’s consumer health education and public relations committee, said that during the 2014 winter season, U.S. Apple Association and participating members were working to support apple sales by conducting joint retail communications and consumer education programs that share the same themes with their respective audiences at the same time.
“There is great opportunity here for us to deepen the impact we make with media and consumers alike by joining efforts,” said Wolter. “Right now we have not only the right team to implement these types of programs, but also the industry enthusiasm and support to make them a success.”
From Dec. 1 through early spring, USApple and select members are holding monthly public relations and social media outreach initiatives to reach online fans and media. The efforts are aimed at attracting greater consumer attention with consistent and timely messages and images.
“Consumer news media and social media are increasingly busy, cluttered places to connect with consumers, particularly during the holiday season,” Wendy Brannen, director of consumer health and public relations for USApple, stated in the release. “By conducting joint communications campaigns in which much of the apple industry, including producers, processors and retailers, are presenting the same content at the same time, we’re better able to break through to consumers with important, helpful messages that will ideally translate to increased apple sales.”
The December program focused on encouraging consumers to “share the health” during the holiday season with do-it-yourself apple gifts, including homemade gift baskets, butters and jams, with apples as the healthy, accessible and affordable center ingredient. Members will be sharing similar posts and professionally styled photography on their social and digital channels and pitching consistent messages and materials to their respective target consumer media.
“USApple’s offer of a social media themed toolbox that individuals can use and to adapt to their own use will help us to reach our goal of seeing between 15 and 30 social media sites all post very similar themes,” added Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association in Fishers, NY, which is participating in the campaign. “If we reach that goal it will create a ground swell of activity.”
On Dec. 11, Julia Stewart, spokesperson for NYAA added, “Our Facebook post of our video showing consumers how to assemble simple apple gift baskets has so far garnered more than 800 likes and reached over 110K, and still counting. Those are great numbers for a group our size.”
The plan for future campaigns is to focus on the benefits of resolving to eat two apples a day in January, and promoting apples’ heart health research during American Heart Month in February.