Good Fruit Grower

January 15

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12 JANUARY 15, 2016 Good Fruit Grower A s growers produce larger crops comprising both mainstay and new varieties, market- ers face greater challenges garnering retail shelf space. Supermarkets are not miraculously get- ting bigger, and that space has to come from somewhere — either from new varieties, organics or competing prod- ucts like citrus fruit, according to Steve Lutz, Columbia Marketing International's vice president of marketing. Produce space is governed by retailers' perceptions of consumer preference and what they think they can sell. And the pressure is on the industry to remain com- petitive. As an example, Lutz said, look at Budweiser: Sales have fallen roughly 40 percent in the past 20 years — from 49.2 million barrels in 1988 to 17.2 million barrels in 2011 — thanks to the booming craft beer market. "Go into a grocery store today and look at the beer dis- play. It's now full of multiple brands," Lutz said during the 111th Annual Meeting of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, held in December in Yakima, Washington. "The question is, 'How will I get it on the shelf, and how will I get it off the shelf once I've produced it?'" Why worry? The new orchards being planted each year mean there are a lot of young trees with new products and new vari- eties that will be bearing fruit and competing for space at the retail level, Lutz said. At the same time, consumption has been flat. "The variety that we offer consumers offers us more opportunities to be successful with our products, but it puts demand on space," he said. "When we produce the next Cosmic Crisp, where are we going to put it?" Apple, pear and cherry growers aren't the only growers producing new varieties, either. Variety is up everywhere — grapes, tomatoes, melons, all major commodities — as well as the growing organic sector. The Costcos and Sam's Clubs of the world are unlikely to expand their produce footprint. Sam's Club averages seven varieties of apple, but "just try to get an eighth," Lutz said. "It is very, very difficult. They will say they have an expectation that your product will drive x number of sales per store, per week. If you can't do that, we don't want it." Plus, as complexity increases in the marketplace, so Retail space is at a premium, with growth in the number of products and organics. by Shannon Dininny Shelf With display space for apples already crowded on retail shelves, Postharvest

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