King Fresh Produce LLC's Keith Wilson Discusses 2022 California Cherries
DINUBA, CA - April is here, and with it there must be cherries on the brain. I touched base with King Fresh Produce LLC’s President Keith Wilson to see what the grower/packer already knows about this year’s California cherry crop.
“Our cherry pack line and the people who do a great job running it are fired up and ready for the upcoming California season,” Keith shared, giving us a preview of what is to come of the company's cherry season.
Centrally located in Dinuba, California, with close proximity to several of the state’s cherry growing regions, Keith notes that quality is looking great while volume levels are closer to years prior to 2021’s bumper crop.
“Overall, quality and sizing are looking really good! We will see more 10 and 9.5 row fruit this year and anticipate great demand. As far as pricing, with tight labor, minimum wage increases in California, plus rising costs of inputs like fuel and fertilizer, California cherry marketers will need to set higher prices in order to be profitable. Luckily, this is a premium item consumers have proven to love, and at King Fresh, we see an opportunity for retailers to hedge their bets with what is looking to be a very promotable Mexican grape season, which is one of the items that King Fresh markets as well,” Keith advised. “We are seeing a big jump in our Mexican grape volume this upcoming season, which will line up very well with the 4th of July holiday.”
Because cherry demand might exceed volume this season, Keith observed that being in close communication with the grower and ready when the crop hits is ideal.
“If you can be among the first grocers to have and break a cherry ad, that seems to generate a lot of sales for stores right out the gate,” he said. “At King Fresh, we are focused on domestic chain stores and a few select export customers we work with to move our cherry crop, and with the understanding that cherries have one of the tightest windows to harvest, promote, and sell, we are happy to assist our customers any way we can.”
I, for one, am already seeing red when it comes to cherry season and cannot wait for fruit to hit stores.