Led by the growing popularity of fresh-cut fruit, as well as the expansion of efforts to improve children's diets, recent growth of the sliced-apple industry has been phenomenal, Todd Hultquist, spokesman for the U.S. Apple Association, told SN.
In fact, fresh sliced-apple production tripled between 2006-2009, according to the association's just released U.S. Apple Crop Production and Utilization Analysis, which coincided with the annual USApple Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference held late last month in Chicago.
“The growth is largely due to increased consumer exposure, increase in suppliers and expanded distribution options — including branded packaging,” Hultquist explained.
“USDA's expected expansion of the fresh sliced-apple program — which launched as a pilot in five states in 2008 — will continue to expose younger consumers to healthy, convenient options. Slice producers, retailers, educators, doctors, parents and many others recognize the importance of this trend. Separately, consumers in general are seeking healthy, convenient and tasty options that can be dropped into a lunchbox, backpack, purse, briefcase or picnic basket for a simple yet rewarding snack.”
Convenience, health and price are all key drivers of the sliced-apple trend, Hultquist said, noting that these are trends that have been growing across all categories for the past decade.
“Throw in the huge success of McDonald's apple slices and Burger King's Apple Fries — which just expanded into supermarkets as a branded product a few weeks ago — and all of this has positioned this category for significant growth into the next decade.”