Retailers are switching from bulk to bagged apples, according to Stemilt Growers, as limited trips to the store, online ordering and a grab-and-go convenience is highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That means Stemilt is seeing retail demand for the five-pound Apple Lover pouch bags and three-pound Lil Snappers kid-sized pouch bags grow, according to a news release.

Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager of the Wenatchee, Wash., grower-shipper, said these are “incredible circumstances.”

“Like other produce suppliers, we feel fortunate to be able to feed people with nutritious fresh foods – like apples and pears – during this difficult time,” Shales said in the release. “We’re seeing a big shift to bagged apples and pears, and retailers carrying larger bag sizes to make up for volume that typically comes through the register as bulk.”

With the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies stressing the virus isn’t transmitted by food, Stemilt says the shift to bagged product is a consumer preference. It’s also easier for strained produce department employees to restock displays with bags.

“Retailers who traditionally sell apples via bulk displays are being proactive and jumping right into carrying five-pound bags,” Shales said in the release. “They know big bags are the best vehicle for these unprecedented times and appreciate the scan ability bags offer and how quickly they can be displayed at the store.”

The typical bag vs. bulk split in apples (30%-40% bagged and the rest bulk), will likely flip as the crisis continues, she said.

Bagged pears are also seeing an increased interest.

“This trend towards bags was already happening for pears and boosts consumer purchase size compared to when they buy bulk pears,” said Shales. “Now, we have a great opportunity to attract additional shoppers to the pear category with these larger pouch bags.”


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