Stemilt Growers looks for expanded bag promotions for 2022 apple crop

From The Packer | 20 September 2022

Overview of apples from Washington in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on September 15, 2022. 

Smaller gala sizes in Washington state will open the door to increased retail promotions of bagged apples, according to Brianna Shales, director of marketing for Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, Wash.

The marketer’s apple harvest was progressing in early September, but a cold spring pushed the start of harvest back by 10 to 14 days in some instances, Shales said.

The industry is expecting an apple crop of about 108 million fresh cartons, down from about 11% from 122 million cartons a year ago, she said.

“We are expecting a smaller crop on Washington apples than last year and much of that will be dependent on getting all apples harvested,” she said. “We are seeing early trends towards smaller fruit sizing in this crop.”

apple volumes by history 18

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

While seeing good fruit size on Rave, SweeTango and other early apples, Shale said there are signs that other fruit may trend smaller in size.

“Gala in particular looks to be on the smaller side, making way for increased bag promotions this season,” she said.

If there are more apples in the small/kid-sized format, Stemilt will be able to support more bagged Lil Snappers promotions, she said.


Organic apples are important for Stemilt Growers, with Shales noting that 23% of the marketer’s entire apple crop is grown and certified organic.

“We specialize in growing high-flavor apples organically, because those are the ones that organic shoppers gravitate towards,” Shales said. “We are leaders in organic Honeycrisp, gala, fuji, SweeTango, and will continue to grow in volumes of Cosmic Crisp organically.”

Stemilt grows a number of varieties, both conventionally and organically, in Washington state.

The marketer sells the club apples, including Rave and SweeTango (for the West Coast) and is a leading supplier of Cosmic Crisp, Shales said.

Rave jumpstarts the apple season as a limited offering each August and September, she said.

The 2022 season has been going very well for Rave, with great-quality fruit and great execution at retail.

“We also lead on core varieties like Honeycrisp, fuji, gala and Pink Lady,” she said, noting that the marketer also has ample pear supply from the Wenatchee and Entiat River Valley.

Despite the shorter crop, the supply outlook for new crop apples is strong, Shales said.

“We will still go year-round on many core varieties,” she said, noting that regional supplies in the Midwest and East are up over last year.

“There will still be promotion opportunities on apples,” she said. “Club apples will still have a ‘season’ especially on those that don’t have big volumes behind them.”

Shales said she expects Cosmic Crisp to go nearly year-round this season once it begins in December.


Stemilt Growers will have an increase in the volume of the SweeTango variety, she said. “It is the top club apple every fall and ranks high in the top 10 when it is available,” Shales said. “It will be great to capitalize on its success and have it go a bit longer this year.”

In addition, Shales said Stemilt will also increase its share of Cosmic Crisp and organic Cosmic Crisp in the 2022-2023 season. “This apple is quickly rising into the top 10 and will be a good feature for multivariety promotions this season.”


In terms of packaging innovation, Shales said Stemilt has introduced a new package called the EZ Band for Rave and SweeTango apples.

“This brings large-sized apples into a four-pack that is made of paperboard and recyclable,” Shales said. “We are doing a small trial this fall to see how it resonates at retail and with shoppers, but we are thrilled to bring a new packaged option to our retailers that has ease in merchandising and is easy on the earth.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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