Mac Riggan of Chelan Fresh Shares Exclusive Programs for Orondo Ruby, Cup O’ Cherries, Rockit Apples, and More
CHELAN, WA - Chelan Fresh is gearing up for the Northwest cherry harvest, with a June 1st start date just around the corner. Warm spring temperatures have moved up Chelan Fresh’s start dates by about five days, and the company is looking forward to end-of-spring and early summer promotions with retail partners.
Mac Riggan, Director of Marketing, joined me for a quick chat in regards to the upcoming season and what we have in store for exclusive programs and increasing demand.
“Our first promotable volumes will be available June 12th with our volume peaking between June 26th and July 20th,” Mac tells me. “Warm spring weather has produced fruit that is very clean and free from frost damage.”
This year, variable pollination has cut the overall crop volume by about 10 percent and compressed bloom across the state means a shorter marketing window than last year, but a manageable one.
“So, get ahead on promotional and ad planning,” Mac adds.
Chelan Fresh will be offering its exclusive Orondo Ruby cherries this season, which will be available June 20th through July 5th of this year. This variety offers a sweet and robust eating experience with a vibrant golden-yellow flesh and red blush. Demand has been exceeding supply again, Mac adds, and the company is growing the program to meet the high demand.
“We are also continuing to work on our Cup O’ Cherries program which is still in the development phase, and with limited distribution. Since interest in this new program is high, we are working to match the production with consumer demand,” Mac says.
Chelan Fresh is constantly looking to provide more convenient ways to enjoy cherries. This packaging design has a two-compartment lid that allows consumers to snack on the stem-free, dark, sweet variety of cherries with just one hand. Just discard the seeds in the second compartment.
In addition to Washington cherries, snack-sized Rockit Apples, imported from New Zealand, are available this summer in very limited quantities, and domestic production will be available this October. As the program continues to grow with wider appeal, Chelan is planting more acreage for retail partners.
Mac also notes that the California deal seems strong with high FOB pricing and although the state had a rough start with multiple weather issues including rain, nicer fruit is now coming on.
“We could see a two to three day gap when California wraps up and Washington gets started, but it is a small window,” he says. “It will only prevent Washington fruit from overlapping with California fruit at retail for a short time.”
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