Stemilt's Brianna Shales and Grower Direct's Daniel Moznett Discuss Strong CA Cherry Market
CALIFORNIA- With the warm February weather that graced us earlier in the year, California’s cherry season is looking to start ahead of schedule as we move into the spring. California signals the start of the West Coast cherry season, and growers are noting strong demand as they move toward the mid-April harvest.
For Stemilt Growers, Communications Manager, Brianna Shales, tells me that retailers can take advantage of the early season as California ramps up, as long as they stay ahead of traditional ad planning and promote early. “Supplies will begin lightly around April 22nd for Stemilt and will peak the first three weeks of May, which doesn’t align with the typical Memorial Day promotion window, but does make for Mother’s Day promotion opportunities. We expect a strong market throughout the California season as cherries remain an impulse item and produce favorite.”
She also adds that California’s crop is larger this year, which is a positive note over last year’s tight supplies. Quality dictates a lot of the demand, and at present, quality is excellent.
“With a few weeks to go until harvest, we are excited about the size and quality of cherries we see on the tree. The weather has been great for California cherries with daytime temperatures in the 60s and nights in the 40s,” Brianna adds. “As we move towards the end of May and towards the first harvests in Washington, we may experience a small gap and higher pricing, but Washington looks to have a great program on the horizon when that gets underway.”
For Stockton, California-based Grower Direct, the company echoes the sentiment that an early start means great promotions and more opportunities for retailers to take advantage of the overall season. Grower Direct has already begun picking cherries at its hot-house deal in Stockton and is shipping to some markets on a limited basis.
“The season will really begin for us around April 18th with our programs in the Southern Valley,” Director of Marketing, Daniel Moznett, tells me. “The season looks very strong this year with consistent volume through May. We will have very promotable volume for both Mothers Day and Memorial Day this season.
Bloom set very nicely this year for California cherry growers and that early February weather really helped to promote the bloom, Daniel notes. Grower Direct will be harvesting Brooks in Arvin and Bakersfield this season as well as Coral, Tulare and Bing varieties as the harvest moves north.
“We anticipate an even season and look forward to a consistent retail promotion period,” Daniel adds. “There will be a very strong market and higher prices to start, but we will get into good volumes quickly. As history dictates, demand will remain high.”
In addition, O-G Packing which packs all of Grower Direct’s products, has upgraded all of its cameras across the company’s optic line in Stockton to the latest technology from Unitech. This investment brings 2HD technology to the packinghouse to increase defect detection and provide an even better project for retail partners.
As we kick off the cherry season on the West Coast, stay tuned for more updates on the harvest and themarket.