Stemilt’s keys to navigating 2023 Washington cherry crop

From The Produce News | 13 June 2023

Overview of cherries from Washington in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on June 9, 2023. 

With Washington cherries on the way, Stemilt is expecting much greater volume this year. The grower expects a steady supply of its Washington cherries will make opportunity for promotion during peak volumes in July. Mike Taylor, Stemilt vice president of sales and marketing, said the crop will be 10 days later than last year, but if retailers hang on they’ll see great success this season.

“We’re very excited for the cherry crop this year,” said Taylor. “It should be a great season because cherry volumes will be much larger this year. The season is behind so we’re expecting Washington cherries by June 15. This will shift sales dollars back on the calendar, but if you stay in it, you’ll see outstanding sales results.”

The last two crops of cherries have experienced multiple weather challenges from record cold springs to record hot summers. This resulted in decreased volumes and hindered quality. This season, there won’t be any gaps between the California and Washington state crops providing consistent supplies. This will grant ample opportunity for retailers to reach new category top line sales growth with Stemilt cherries. Focusing on a high-quality program is key in standing out from competition and driving total produce sales.

“The best advice I can give to retailers is to expand your cherry assortment, don’t miss any weeks, make a plan and adjust as necessary, and secure promotional spots,” said Taylor. “We are positive for July 4 promotions regardless of shipping locations. Dark sweet cherries, Rainiers, Skylar Rae and organic cherries are promotable all of July. Our later season A Half Mile Closer to the Moon cherries should harvest in the early days of September this season.”

cherry volumes by histor 5

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The July cherry promotion timing also aligns with Stemilt’s Kyle’s Pick brand. This recently redesigned brand features eye-catching packaging that is filled with the top-quality cherries from each day’s harvest that must meet stringent firmness and sugar standards.

“Cherries are an impulse purchase and quality drives repeat purchases,” said Taylor. “Kyle’s Pick offers retailers with packages that were curated for quality and a promise to deliver a great eating experience. It helps set the stage for repeat purchases during the July peak, and late-season cherries in August.”

Taylor predicts more aggressive cherry FOB prices this year, but strong enough to not create category deflation. The combination of increased supplies and steady availability will set the table for increased top line sales numbers at retail. Using catch weight bags sold by the pound with scale units will help during key promotion weeks. Top seal and three-pound. clamshells are also useful tools for selling by the unit and for online shopping.

“I encourage you to celebrate National Rainier Cherry Day on July 11 because this will fall in perfect time during peak volumes,” said Taylor. “Consumer excitement is building, and we can’t wait to find success with retailers with great tasting, big cherries this season that will deliver on our mission to delight consumers through excellence.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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