COLLEGE STATION — As the weather changes this month, retailers will play up to the appetites of consumers with foods associated with cooler temperatures.
“Merchandisers of food products must design promotions and purchase sale items weeks in advance, and it is difficult to have a successful sale on items such as soup when the heat of the day tops out in the 80’s or 90’s,” said Dr. Richard Edwards, food marketing specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. “Retailers will be glad to see lower temperatures that encourage customers to purchase seasonal products on special.”
Fall features will include specials on breakfast cereals, coffee, orange juice, and refrigerated dough products, he said. Cold cereals will be discounted about 15 percent when on special. Better buys will be available on new products coming to market with discount prices and coupons resulting in savings of 30 percent to 40 percent.
Store brand refrigerated orange juice in one-half gallon cartons will cost between $1.39 and $1.59 per carton. When on special, apple cider will sell at around $2 per gallon while apple juice will be priced at $1.29 for a one-half gallon container.
Sale prices will be down at least 20 percent on refrigerated dough products such as biscuits, cookie dough and pie shells when advertised in newspapers.
Two major merchandising events during the month will not be affected by the weather — Halloween and promotions leading to a “free” Thanksgiving turkey. A series of Halloween promotions, starting with costumes, will begin during the first week of the month. The most popular outfits will be patterned after characters from summer hit movies and popular TV shows. Discounts will not be available until the week prior to Halloween night. Some retailers will cut costume prices by 50 percent during the last few days.
“Every candy manufacturer in the country will offer special Halloween packages,” Edwards said. “Most will offer their candy at a discount of around 15 percent. Promotional packages will not be further discounted. In fact, demand will increase and once the retailersAE supply of a particular brand is exhausted, there will be no replenishment.”
October is the time for consumers to start saving register tapes, coupons, etc. to show they have spent a certain number of dollars to get a free turkey for Thanksgiving. Some stores now provide bonus points if certain products are purchased during this period. So, watch the ads and evaluate each program before deciding which store gets your business.
Opportunities to purchase fresh produce diminishes this month. Items being harvested include pumpkins, pears, apples, sweet potatoes, white potatoes and hard shell squashes.
This yearsAE pumpkin crop will be ample to cover the jack-o- lantern demand, Edwards said. Prices of pumpkins will be about the same as last year, from 99 cents up to $2.99 each, depending on size and shape. Mini pumpkins used to decorate around the house or office will be available for 39 cents each.
“Price is usually not as important as size and shape,” he said. ” Consumers should buy pumpkins early and store them in a dark, dry place.”
Other produce seen this month will include the new crop of apples at 33 to 69 cents per pound with better buys on small sizes. Popular varieties of pears will be on special for 69 cents per pound, sweet potatoes at 39 cents per pound and white potatoes in 10-pound bags for around $1. Acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash will cost 25 to 30 cents per pound.
Some non-seasonal items will be heavily promoted. Heads of lettuce will be on sale for 49 to 59 cents per pound. Broccoli and brussels sprouts will be featured at 39 to 59 cents per pound, and white and red grapes will sell for 99 cents per pound.
Prices at the meat counter will be inching up a bit. The best beef buys will be bone-in round steak on sale for around $1.75 per pound and boneless chuck steak at about $1.85 cents per pound. Another good buy will be rump roast for $2 per pound. Ground beef will be priced around $1.15 per pound.
In the pork section, center cut loin chops will be featured at about $2 per pound. The chops cut from the end of the loin will be about 40 cents per pound cheaper. The best buy on bacon will be on store brands at $1 to $1.39. Both pan and smoked sausage also will marked down to around $1.39 per pound.
Whole birds will be on special more frequently than in past months. Prices will be between 59 and 65 cents per pound. Turkey breasts will be featured for 99 cents per pound, whole turkeys at 79 to 89 cents per pound and ground turkey at 89 cents per pound.
Consumers will find more sales in the seafood section, including whole salmon for $4.25 per pound, salmon steaks at $5.25 per pound and whole trout for $2.69 per pound. Shrimp prices will continue at their elevated levels but will be marked down at least once during the month. The most economical purchase will be on medium, 55-60 count, for around $5.50 per pound.