It’s a good time to be in the peach business. The fruit was still coasting on its status as the No. 1 emoji representation of a juicy rump when viral tweets brought The Presidents Of The United States Of America’s 25-year-old musical ode to the summer staple back into the online conversation. That resurgence arrived on the heels of Justin Bieber releasing his own “Peaches,” a sticky, lip-licking R&B-tinged Justice single featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon. But as the track’s travelogue chorus points out, Bieber isn’t singing about just any peaches. He gets his peaches down in Georgia.
Which begs the question: The song must have been a boon for sales of Georgia peaches, right? Well, it depends who you ask.
“Nah, I don’t think so,” says Scott Chapman, a manager at Georgia-based Nickey Gregory, one of the Southeast’s biggest fruit wholesalers. (Chapman wasn’t even familiar with “Peaches” until I sang a few bars.) “Our customers aren’t teenyboppers. They’re rednecks.”
“Peaches” debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in March, where it still hovers in the top 10 all these weeks later. Just in time for summer peach season, a fact not lost on other industry insiders like Stephen Rose, CEO of The Peach Truck, the nation’s largest seller of Georgia peaches. He likens the publicity to a Super Bowl ad in terms of its reach. “Now every time you’re in your car, you’re thinking of Georgia peaches. You can’t buy that kind of marketing.” (Well, you can, but it’ll cost you.)
Rose estimates that the song appears in at least 70% of social posts tagged #peaches. That may be a bit of a reach, but it hasn’t stopped The Peach Truck, along with several peach vendors and even the state’s official tourism arm, from touting the song in their social posts. “We hear Justin Bieber gets his peaches down in Georgia. Do you?,” asks an Explore Georgia Facebook post from May 19.
The truth is, peaches inevitably enjoy an uptick in sales this time of year, so it’s hard to parse how much credit to assign Bieber. (Unlike his blockbuster collaboration with Crocs, which sold out almost instantly, by all accounts Bieber didn’t partner with Georgia or its peach farmers on the song.) And with COVID-19 restrictions relaxing around the country, more shoppers in stores inevitably means more shoppers buying peaches.
Beyond the fruit’s utility in text messages and lyrical double entendre, peaches just might not be on the minds of Bieber’s audience. The average age of a peach buyer is pushing 59, according to the Produce Market Guide. “Kids don’t eat peaches, they eat McDonalds,” adds Chapman.
And while it’s true that Georgia is as synonymous with peaches as Maine is with lobsters and Florida its oranges, it might surprise the fuzzy fruit lovers to know that most peaches come from California and South Carolina. Both states eclipsed Georgia’s modest $50 million business as the nation’s top exporters of the fruit years ago. So cementing Georgia’s reputation as the venue for peaches, with Justin Bieber its de facto hype man, is only net positive, say peach experts. Says Rose, the peach CEO whose business sells to 33 states around the country, “You have the biggest name in music singing about the peaches we sell. Can you imagine anything better?”