Peach farmers stay optimistic through changed consumer behavior

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Edgefield, SC (WJBF) – More populated grocery stores calls for less time browsing. The largest peach producer in South Carolina says consumer behavior is their biggest concern.

Peach season here in Edgefield County is in full swing and normally when farmers are worried about the weather… Now, it’s about the pandemic.

Picking peaches, cleaning them off, and weeding out the ones with bruises is typical work at Titan Farms. Now, it’s even the good crop farmers are worried about.

Owner and Operator of Titan Farms, Chalmers Carr, says, “with this crop that you see here, with 56 other varieties, 5,000 acres, a lot of invested in here, and today, I can’t tell you whether we’re going to be able to sell the whole crop or not.”

Carr says peaches are considered a luxury buy– one people buy on impulse.

“Retailers in general are all scared to buy different items. They’ve all cut back on their produce skews. Again, you don’t have the number of consumers going in there,” says Carr, “you have the threat of the economy going down, so convincing them to have peaches and promote peaches have been a little bit of a challenge.”

Promoting his crop is something he used to do in face-to-face meetings until the coronavirus stopped travel.

“In your major cities, you’ve got grocery stores that are closing. So, that’s changing the demand model again. There’s just things that are hitting us that are so unusual that it’s like how do you react to them? Cause this is a perishable item,” says Carr.

They are as perishable as 14 days. If the fruit doesn’t land on a shelf, that’s added to the lost value.

With over 700 workers to keep safe, tourism had to come to a close.

“When it’s full bloom, and people want to take pictures in the orchard when these are pretty pink with no leaves on them and stuff, we had to tell people they couldn’t come,” says Carr.

With 14 more weeks to go, about 90% of their sales in front of them, they still are optimistic.

“We’re excited about producing peaches, we just hope that our consumers will get to them and buy them and enjoy the great taste of a peach,” says Carr.

Normally, farmers have an idea of how peach season is going to go. This time around, they say they won’t know until the end of the summer.

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