Dietitians can Leverage Unique Demand Patterns for Top Fall Foods

Dietitians can Leverage Unique Demand Patterns for Top Fall Foods

October 10, 2018
Retail Industry Insights

By Al Heller, Contributing Editor, 

The nation’s biggest-selling plant-based fall foods – nuts, apples, pumpkins, cranberries and cranberry sauce - have the nutrition, distinctive tastes, and close association with special days such as Halloween and Thanksgiving to be tabletop perennials.  Yet customer demand for each varies widely during the 12 weeks ending at Thanksgiving: dollar sales, scale and fresh vs. packaged splits move to their own distinct weekly rhythms, as revealed by Nielsen data.

By examining insights on these iconic fall foods, retail dietitians can more effectively leverage their unique appeals to enhance customer health, usage and sales during the fall season.  Readers can use this Nielsen data on 12 weeks ending November 25, 2017 (all U.S. outlets) as a road map for this autumn.  The data include sales of both UPC-coded and random-weight non-UPC-coded product.

  • Nuts sell the most of all - $1.2 billion during the season, almost entirely from the dry grocery aisle.  Their average weekly sales in Thanksgiving week ($157 million) crush the September weekly average ($92 million) by well over 50%.
  • Apples approach $1 billion in sales during the season, almost entirely from the fresh produce department.  Apple sales remain pretty consistent throughout the September-to-November period ($83 million per week average).
  • Like apples, pumpkins also sell almost entirely in fresh produce form rather than in center store.  Weekly pumpkin sales rise quickly from September until the week before Halloween, when dollar sales peak at $36 million.  Then sales plummet to well under $1 million per week during most of November. The season generates $150 million in pumpkin sales overall.
  • Stores sell $66 million worth of cranberries in the fall – about $29 million from the fresh produce department and $37 million from the dry grocery aisle.  Sales keep a low profile before picking up steam as Thanksgiving hosts start to prepare for holiday dinner.  Weekly sales stay below $4 million until November, when the weekly pace escalates as high as $20 million.
  • Cranberry sauce sells almost as well as fresh cranberries - $64 million total during the fall season. Almost all its sales occur in dry grocery, with convenience of the packaged form a key driver. Its weekly sales stay under $2 million until November, when the weekly pace jumps as high as $28 million.