Stemilt Introduces Exclusive Skylar Rae® Cherries to Produce Departments this Month
- by Jessica Donnel
WENATCHEE, WA - As Stemilt Growers continues its tradition of produce department innovation, the family-owned company is introducing its new bi-colored cherry, Skylar Rae®, this month—the sweetest and firmest cherry that Stemilt grows.
At Brix levels ranging from 23-25 on average, and off-the-charts firmness, this new plant cultivar with unique DNA and unknown parentage was discovered growing by chance in a Wenatchee, WA, orchard back in 2004. Called Tip Top in the orchard and marketed under the brand name Skylar Rae®, it is the first cherry in years to be given its own product price look-up (PLU) number by the International Federation for Produce Standards. It joins dark-sweet and Rainier cherries as the cherry category’s third SKU.
“Skylar Rae® cherries are not only a distinct cherry variety, but they also have a distinct and very impressive flavor,” said Stemilt’s Marketing Director Roger Pepperl. “They’ll crunch when you bite into one, and then you experience a rush of sugars and juice. It’s an entirely new dessert eating experience for cherries.”
Stemilt is the exclusive marketer of Skylar Rae® cherries in North America, according to a press release, and by 2020 the company expects its Skylar Rae® volumes to rival its current Rainier tonnage. Typically harvested in June and early July, Stemilt said it has been planting the variety extensively in its cherry orchards across central Washington.
“This year’s crop of Skylar Rae® cherries is fantastic and going to leave consumers who are lucky enough to try them excited for larger volumes coming in the future,” added Pepperl. “At Stemilt, we are excited about adding Skylar Rae® as another premium offering to our industry leading cherry program.”
Stemilt packs Skylar Rae® cherries in random-weight pouch bags and a new, dome-style 1 lb. clamshell, both of which distinguish the variety as special at the point-of-purchase and entice consumers with the tagline “the sweetest cherry you’ll ever eat.” The company also has stand-up displays for Skylar Rae, ideal for placement in checkout lanes to grab impulse purchasing.
“Merchandising is key when it comes to a new product like Skylar Rae cherries,” Pepperl goes on. “Cherries are an impulse purchase, and packaging, displays, and signage must be used to call attention to them and drive sales with your shoppers. Sharing Skylar Rae® on digital and social channels is another great way to tell consumers about this new cherry.”
Skylar Rae® cherries also come with a beautiful story, with the variety being named after the memory of Kim and Troy Toftness’ daughter, Skylar Rae Toftness.
As told by Stemilt, “Shortly after her passing in 2004, the family was working at their Tip Top Orchards in Wenatchee, WA, one rainy day when they saw a rainbow fill the sky. For them, this rainbow was a symbol that Skylar Rae was still, and always would be, with them. Not long after, Troy Toftness discovered a tree in his orchard producing a unique looking – and tasting – cherry. He considered cutting it down as chance discoveries like these rarely produce commercially viable fruit, but refrained.”
Now, a decade later, Skylar Rae® cherries are finally entering the market.
“Skylar Rae® is a special cherry with a special story, and Stemilt is thrilled to be the one that gets to share it with consumers,” said Pepperl.
For more information about Skylar Rae cherries, visit www.SkylarRaeCherries.com.