Brianna Shales, Steve Shearer, and Keith Wilson Discuss California Cherry Season Outlook, Size, and Quality
CALIFORNIA - The highly anticipated California cherry season is quickly approaching and with it the opportunity for retailers to partner with some of the best growers, packers, and shippers across the category. As we break into April, I checked in with some of our friends to get a read on the season and how the outlook may be a bit different than many expected.
Brianna Shales, Marketing Director, Stemilt
“Stemilt’s long cherry season will begin in mid-April in California. Following bloom and a sporadic crop set in growing regions, we know the industry won’t match last year’s record volumes and instead is looking at crop in the 5.5–6 million box range. This is on par with the past eight-year average in California and due to frost impacts. There is a lot of demand for cherries and still a sizable crop to sell. It’s going to be important for retailers to work closely with their supply partners to align with the crop. We also want to make sure and inform consumers of the arrival of cherries in stores. The crop quality should be very strong, with good sizing, firmness, and dessert flavors."
Steve Shearer, Sales Manager, Bravante Produce
"Bravante Produce will be kicking off our California cherry program around May 1, and it will run through Memorial Day weekend. Last year, the industry experienced a fairly sizable bumper crop and that’s causing this year to be a little lighter as well as some early frost that did some damage. The benefits of the light crop this season will be excellent, high-end fruit with great size and quality. My advice to retailers is to talk to your California cherry partners to navigate the front end of the deal before volumes begin to pick up in middle May.”
Keith Wilson, President, King Fresh Produce
“The California cherry season is less than a month away and our staff and packing equipment is ready to roll. Early expectations, and in talking with growers, are that we should plan for a lighter crop due to areas in the valley hit by chill damage while some areas seem to have escaped the effects of the extreme cold unscathed. While lighter volume could be attributed to weather and pollination challenges, a lighter fruit set can sometimes occur following a bumper crop as we saw last year. With that said, overall quality and sizing look really good this year and we expect prices to stay firm with promotional opportunities for the peak harvest weeks in mid-May to early June.”
A big thank you to our California cherry friends for the most up-to-date news and I am excited to see how the category takes off in 2022!