WENATCHEE, WASH. – Stemilt’s newest edition of its Fruit Tracker Fast Facts The Cast series highlighted total U.S. apple and pear category performance based on Nielsen retail scan data from the latest 12 weeks ending February 21.  

Apples continued their dollars up and volume down trajectory and experienced a 1.2% growth in dollars compared to the 12 weeks.  The pear category was up 13% in dollars and 6% in volume over the latest 12 weeks. 

“Retail prices of apples inched up between December 2020 and February 2021, and are up 11 cents year over year,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt marketing director. “This is due mostly to a shorter national apple crop this year. Apples are still competitively priced and ready for regular and big promotions as we head into the spring season.” 

Honeycrisp led the category in sales by variety and made up 30% of apple dollars between January 24 and February 21. The sought-after apple was up 11% in dollars and 5% in volume compared to the same timeframe the year prior. The other workhorse of the apple category, Gala, saw dollars grow 5% but volumes dip compared to last year. 

There were subtle differences in regional performance on apples during the January 24-February 21 timeframe where fresh produce sales were up 11% year over year. The Northeast region saw produce sales up 12% and moved 1% more apple volume during this timeframe. The South region had the largest growth in apple dollars versus last year, up 8%. The West region was down 3% on apple volumes over the latest 4 weeks. 

“It’s difficult to pinpoint a single reason that the Northeast outperformed the average in February, but they had some wild weather during this timeframe which could have drawn more shoppers to purchase more food, including apples,” said Shales. “It also could be a continuation of the COVID-19 effect where consumers are eating and cooking at home more.” 

Stemilt touched briefly on the pear category during the Fast Facts The Cast episode and explained that both dollars and volume continue their upward trend year over year. The workhorse of the pear category during the fall and early winter months is Bartlett. It made up 40% of pear sales during the latest 12 weeks ending February 21, but this is slated to change as the domestic season winds down.