This year’s SweeTango apple season has drawn to an end, with grocery retailers selling out of the last of the 2016 harvest.
According to the most recent Nielsen data, in the time period between Aug. 7 and Oct. 29 SweeTango weekly sales in the U.S. averaged 54 pounds per store, an increase from 43.6 during the same time frame in 2015. In addition, it was the No. 10 best-selling apple overall—falling just behind Pink Lady and Jazz—and the No. 2 best-selling apple when compared only to club varieties. Pricing for SweeTango averaged $2.33 per pound and $233 a week per store in sales.
A robust marketing program supported sales in the U.S. and Canada this season, including the launch of refreshed packaging designs and partnering with retailers to invest in digital coupons and in-store demos. In addition, consumer marketing activities helped to raise awareness of SweeTango’s availability, crunch and flavor profile:
• A new tagline, “Free the Crunch,” was introduced with a social media contest that, over the course of 47 days, generated 1,400 entries on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as a 42 percent increase in traffic to SweeTango.com.
• A series of short-form animated videos promoted the loud crunch and sweet-tangy flavor of SweeTango to target audiences, collectively receiving 42,000 views on YouTube and Facebook over a 90-day period.
• A “SweeTango Society” blogger outreach program was established, with more than a dozen food-centric bloggers in the U.S. and Canada featuring unique SweeTango recipes on their blogs between September and November.
SweeTango apples also gained word-of-mouth momentum as podcasters and radio personalities touted the apple as a favorite. Listeners anticipated the start of the SweeTango season and were inspired to share their trial of the variety on social media. New, enthusiastic SweeTango fans were born as a result, according to the brand.
Members of Next Big Thing, the cooperative that grows and markets SweeTango apples, remarked on the success of the season.
Roger Pepperl, Stemilt Growers’ marketing director, noted that retailers in the western U.S. SweeTango sales region were pleased with the good performance they experienced with SweeTango this season, and that more grocers in the region added SweeTango to their apple lineup for the first time this season.
Skip Swanson of Pepin Heights Orchards said that retailers and consumers alike responded to the large number of in-store demos that were held in the midwestern U.S., building consumer awareness of the variety and bringing in new fans.
David Williams, VP of sales and marketing at Fowler Farms, was pleased with the season’s progress in the eastern U.S.
“Consumer awareness and trial for the brand continues to receive favorable responses at shows as well as with in-store sampling and local marketing events,” he said.
The season kicked off with immediate momentum, with digital coupons, new retailers adding pouch bags and strong on-ad promotions. A highlight of the season was partnering with the Syracuse Crunch AHL hockey team to promote the “uber-crunchy” SweeTango with sampling, in-game fan activities like apple-dunking on the ice, and more.
Dennis MacPherson, director of sales and marketing at Scotian Gold, said that he was pleased with the apple’s performance in Canada.
“There was tremendous excitement out of the gate with retailers who enthusiastically supported the apple in store and in flyer,” he said.
In Canada, SweeTango’s extensive consumer marketing included television spots in key markets with celebrity chef Jonathan Collins, as well as sampling events in stores, at food events and at marathons.
The overall 2016 crop was slightly larger than 2015, but marginally smaller than projected due to Midwest hail in the early growing season and harvest-time cracking in New York. The quality of the total North American crop was excellent, producing fruit with “gorgeous color, smooth finish and that signature loud crunch and sweet-tart flavor that consumers crave,” according to the brand.