In a tete-a-tete with Restaurant India, Rebecca Lyons, International Marketing Director, Washington Apples talks about their new marketing strategy and the plan to grow Indian business.
Washington produces about 42% of the apples grown in United States. Washington Apples are famous worldwide. Many varieties of Apples are grown here for nearly all 12 months. According to a 2014 USDA survey, Washington State is top producer in the U.S. for certified organic apples. It first started in India in year 2000-2001. After the low sales to India last year, Washington Apple’s has started with a fresh market campaign this year, which started with its collaboration with ‘grehlaxmi, a favourite with the Indian household women, where in Washington Apples will publish their apple based recipes.
Where does your focus remain in HORECA or in retail market?
Focus is on ‘fresh apple’ and so we only aim at promoting it between retail consumers. We don’t care if someone is shopping at modern retail outlet or the street, we want them to see and buy Washington Apples. People are looking for ways to incorporate healthy foods into their diets. Studies show apples help people with diabetes, heart problems and even with some kinds of cancers. Washington Apples are high quality, thus offering you the best of this fruit’s benefits. Also, if you use high quality ingredients, your food is going to taste better. That’s our idea behind this collaboration, to give more tools to people to include Washington Apples in their diets.
Tell us something about your distribution network. Who are some of your major clients?
The apples are sold to over 100 importers and they handle the distribution forward. Main markets in India include Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. The wholesome markets using modern trade options either take our apples directly to the consumer markets or to retail outlets like Big Bazaar etc remain our major clients.
How would you say your sales rose and fell in the past years?
Initially we sent only 10,000 cartons and the sales kept increasing over the years. But in year 2015-16 our production went down where as India’s picked up. The total import volume for 2016 was lower when compared to 2015. This year however, we should see the same levels of 2015 or maybe even higher. We will promote and do activities to make Indian customers aware of the benefits of Washington Apples. No matter what the supplies, we have to maintain our presence. We cannot control Mother Nature but can manage our promotions.
How do you think your Apples are of a superior quality?
We have an ideal climate for growing apples. Factors such as nutrients rich volcanic soil, lot of rivers providing natural irrigation, arid climate and also a lot of advanced technological practices that our growers have invested in, over the past 100 years make our apples the healthy, crispy and juicy. We have technology on packing line that judges if it’s a good quality apple before the apple goes in the box. We also make sure, what goes in the box is what gets received.
How is your target market changing?
We have been doing activities for over 15 years in India. We just convey the message that apples are good for health. Now what we are doing is going out into, tier 2 and 3 cities as well. That is really where the opportunity lies. People here, have more incomes, and have demands that we can cater to. Tier 1 is already quite familiar with our brand. We are also starting with the road show in 89 cities in India. The whole idea is to go out to schools and residential areas, and make events out of it. The aim is to educate apple lovers about the succulent varieties available in India along with a number of delights.
What is your expansion plan?
We have strategically planned our expansions. We have identified five strategic markets and India is one of them. Mexico is top, then china, followed by India, Indonesia and Vietnam. All markets have tremendous growth opportunities.