Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s Communications Manager, Discusses Early California Cherry Season; Strong Market
CALIFORNIA - Cherries are a premium product at retail, and a most promising impulse buy. With the California season kicking off earlier than usual this year, Stemilt Growers is promoting the upcoming opportunities for retailers and the huge potential for new dollars in the produce department.
Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s Communications Manager, tells me that the warm weather experienced in early February has brought California’s cherry season on early, which is far from a bad thing.
“As the winter weather winds down, consumers are looking for spring fruit items to light-up produce departments, and cherries are right around the corner,” Brianna says. “If you haven’t started planning retail promotions, now is the time to start, as this early window allows for more promotional opportunities throughout the California and Northwest cherry seasons.”
Stemilt will begin shipping around April 22nd with light volumes to start. By the end of April, volumes will ramp up and make for good supplies shipping the first three weeks of May.
“Typically California’s peak promotion window is around Memorial Day, but this year retailers should shift their ad calendars to respond to the earlier California cherry season. We are encouraging Mother’s Day cherry promotions,” Brianna adds, as we discuss the strong market and pricing ahead. “We expect excellent demand throughout the California season as cherries remain a highly desired item at retail.”
Brianna notes that there could be more cherries in April than the company, or state, has ever seen before. New emerging varieties like Coral Champagne and the Royal family are fueling the early volumes from Stemilt.
“The weather has been ideal lately in California for growing cherries, with daytime temperatures in the 60s and nights in the 40s. Fruit is sizing nicely and Corals and Royal varieties in particular are looking very good on the tree,” Brianna says.
Stemilt will also be offering Brooks and Tulare in the early timeframe, with Bings coming later from the northern growing district near Stockton.
“Stemilt has the longest cherry season of anyone in the nation with supplies running from late April until early September typically,” she adds.
“Last year was record-early for Washington in May, but this year it looks like we will have a great spread between crops. Washington may run a week or so behind last year, which could signal a slight gap in supply. We are excited to kick off the new cherry season in a few weeks and look forward to a long season of high-quality cherries that will boost the produce department,” Brianna says.
All Stemilt’s California cherries are marketed under the company’s World Famous Cherries label.