In mid-July, Stemilt began its shipments of its organic peaches and nectarines with the expectation that they would have promotable volumes from late July to late September.
“We are definitely the leader in organic stone fruit from Washington,” said Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager for Stemilt, adding that both its volume and the all-organic nature of its peach and nectarine crops are major differentiators from the regional competition.
Stemilt's summer fruit pack
Speaking to OPN Connect, Shales said production had just begun and for the first couple of weeks the fruit will be on the smaller end of the size spectrum, which is perfect for the company’s kid-targeted Lil Snapper brand. As August matures, the fruit will skew larger toward medium to jumbo sizes.
Stemilt uses the Artisan Organics label for most of its stone fruit, utilizing both bulk and retail-ready containers. It is also introducing a new label this season for the stone fruit called “Top Pick” with a tagline on the box reading “The most incredible fruit ever.”
Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager, Stemilt
Shales said the 15-pound carton is display-ready with both a bulk and a tray pack configuration. It is meant to be a premium pack featuring the “best of the best” fruit.
The company is also introducing a paper tote bag for the organic fruit this summer. Shales said with four or five pieces of fruit in each bag, the pack will encourage shoppers to increase their buy. In a press release, Stemilt also encouraged retailers to put the fruit on ad multiple times during the 10-week summer run.
Stemilt's summer fruit pack tote
The company supports retail promotional efforts with a Retailer Tool Kit to help tell the organic story. Stemilt also offers a display bin with organic graphics that can be used to display any of the company’s organic offerings which include apples and pears throughout the year, with cherries and apricots joining peaches and nectarine as seasonal organic crops.
For the organic nectarines and peaches, Shales said the company’s organic grower – the multi-generational Douglas family - has many different varieties, focusing on some of the classics developed in California.
“They feature a classic flavor,” she said. “Flavor is the most important attribute to the Douglas family. You have to give the consumers a great taste experience. That’s what keeps them coming back. The fruit is of high color, great quality and has a strong flavor.”
She said the Douglas family began transitioning to organics around 2007 and have been completely organic for about a decade, with the grower continuing to increase its organic production every year. The different varieties are typically planted in small blocks and are picked three to four times during the relatively short season. Shales said that allows the grower to better manage the harvest and always pick fruit at its optimum ripeness.
Stemilt's top pick summer fruit package
While a majority of these two organic stone fruits stay relatively closer to home because of strong demand, Shales said they are shipped across the country and offered to Stemilt’s entire customer list.
The middle of the summer fruit season also signals the start of the 2020/21 apple harvest. Shales said Stemilt will begin picking and marketing new crop organic apples around the middle of August. Overall, the 2019/20 apple crop was a large one so there is enough fruit to last until the new crop hits the ground running. Shales said while the overall fall apple crop is expected to be lower in volume, Stemilt continues to see growth in its organic production. “We will have more organic apple volume this fall,” she said.