Stemilt's Brianna Shales Discusses California Cherry Opportunities


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Mon. April 22nd, 2024 - by Jenna Plasterer

WENATCHEE, WA - Here in California, where the AndNowUKnow team is located, April means beautiful spring sunshine and the start of the cherry season! With a glint in their eye, consumers are getting ready to get their hands on their beloved cherries, and Stemilt has the volume and merchandising ideas to keep sales flowing.

Brianna Shales, Marketing Director, Stemilt

“It’s important to have California be a strong kickoff to the cherry season and let consumers know that this seasonal item is available again,” explains Brianna Shales, Marketing Director at Stemilt. “Of course, freshness and quality matter a lot. Cherries are a high dollar driver for the produce department each summer, so driving repeat purchases is key to ensuring sales throughout the year. Take advantage of every promotion opportunity to deliver the best results to your category and produce department sales.”

According to Brianna, promotions are key during peak supply times. Consumers purchase cherries on impulse 75 percent of the time, so having a large display in a high-traffic location in the produce department is essential in capturing sales.

Retailers partnered with Stemilt are in luck because the grower anticipates quality and volume as the season progresses.

Cherries are a high dollar driver for the produce department each summer, so driving repeat purchases is key to ensuring sales throughout the year

“California experienced good bloom conditions and a great cherry set that should lead to strong volumes this season. Most importantly, the crop has great harvest timing for typical retail promotions. Cherry harvest is slated to start by the last week of April. Volume will build in May, and we anticipate a peak starting mid-May. Memorial Day ads are possible, and two subsequent ads in the first two weeks of June will maximize a retailer’s results for California cherries," adds Shales. “We expect high quality throughout the season and will be focused on harvesting at maturity that produces flavors to delight consumers.”

To support its cherry crops, Stemilt has modernized orchards and varieties in California and focuses on delivering the World Famous cherry experience through an optimized harvest, tight cold chain, and quick-to-ship standards. Freshness is key when it comes to cherries, and the supplier has built its program around delivering them so that the retailer and consumer get the benefits of high-quality and fresh cherries.

Cherry harvest is slated to start by the last week of April, with volume building in May and peak anticipated to start mid-May

This season, Stemilt will start in the Westley area of California with Royal varieties before expanding volume as May begins. The grower’s California crop comes from the San Joaquin and Sacramento counties in Westley, Patterson, Tracy, Brentwood, Stockton, Lodi, and the River district.

In addition to Royal varieties, Stemilt also produces Coral, Bing, Brooks, Tulare, Garnet, Lapins, and Rainiers—the yellow cherry.

Stemilt focuses on delivering the World Famous cherry experience through an optimized harvest, tight cold chain, and quick-to-ship standards

“Lapins are a special offering at Stemilt and come in our branded 5 River Islands® program, which helps wrap up our California cherry season in late May and early/mid-June. 5 River Islands® was inspired by their locale, the River/Delta region, where a moderate climate helps produce high-quality Lapins,” Brianna notes.

If delicious California cherries need to be added to your produce department, contact a Stemilt representative.