Chelan Fresh's Mac Riggan Talks Cherries
CHELAN, WA - Spring is in the air. And for Chelan Fresh’s employees and growers, the warm weather means cherry season is less than 80 days away. As the days get longer and the sunshine warmer, cherry trees are ready to leave their dormant, wintery ways and burst into bloom.
With this in mind, I tapped Marketing Director Mac Riggan to find out what we can expect from one of this year’s sweetest crops.
“Here at Chelan Fresh, we are excited to once again launch into our Washington cherry season. While we are still waiting for bloom to take hold, our team is looking forward to a great multifaceted program for our retail partners and consumer following,” Mac tells me, noting that because it’s early in the season, benchmarks are subject to change. “We expect to have promotable volume around June 12th and will probably peak July 8th to July 30th, wrapping up around August 16th.”
“In the past few years Chelan Fresh’s June volume has grown to where we have just about equal supplies of cherries in June and July. In addition to our dark sweet varieties, we grow Early Robin and Rainier,” says Mac. “And the Orondo Ruby cherry, exclusive to Chelan Fresh, is expected to start harvest around June 20th and finish around July 4th. To capture the disposable dollars consumers seem willing spend during the holidays, retailers need run as many the July 4th ads as they can.”
And even with a perennial favorite like cherries, Mac says, there is ample room for category growth.
“I think every year there’s an opportunity to generate new customers,” Mac adds, “Especially with more and more millennials now shopping with their own money, I think it’s key now—as much as it’s ever been before—to introduce those customers to what good cherries are like. If roughly 30 percent of millennials’ families were buying cherries, that means 70 percent weren’t—and may never have eaten a quality cherry. There’s some real upside if you’re willing to engage the customer.”
And millennial shoppers increasingly attuned to healthy eating habits should also know that cherries are bursting with nutrition. Cherries are loaded with antioxidants and full of vitamin C, potassium, and anti-inflammatory properties. And though one might not expect it, cherries also contain about three grams of fiber per serving.
To best promote cherries this season, Chelan Fresh recommends in-store demos, secondary displays, and large displays in the front of the produce department.