King Fresh President Keith Wilson and OG Packing/Grower Direct's Tom Gotelli Discuss Tight California Cherry Market
- by Jordan Okumura
CALIFORNIA - Recent weather events are making for a tight cherry market as the California season gets under way. As we move toward warmer weather and growing demand, some of the state’s cherry growers filled me in on the challenges so far and what we can expect moving forward.
Tom Gotelli of OG Packing and Grower Direct Marketing, tells me that the timing of the rain that we received in late April was enough to decrease the overall volume of the early Brook and Coral crop in the Southern and some middle districts. But, recent enhancements at the company’s facility in Stockton have allowed them to address any quality issues as the crop comes in.
“This season, our parent company, OG Packing, has made a significant upgrade to our optical sizers and Unitec technology. We have made excellent use of this new Cherry Vision 2 camera system and proprietary software upgrades to increase packing efficiency and increase quality fruit sent to our retail partners,” Tom adds.
The improvements OG Packing made this off-season were in the software and hardware on the company’s Unitec lines. CherryVision 2 is paying its dividends in quality for its pack in this type of season.
“The team that we have assembled to monitor our pack-outs has done a tremendous job so far this season managing the quality in our pack," he adds. “As of today, we can see good quality in the Bings and ample volume beginning around May 10th to meet the demands of retail promotions for Memorial Day.”
Keith Wilson, President of King Fresh, tells me that while supplies have taken a hit quality is looking good despite the recent rains over the past couple weeks, and that growers are monitoring their fields daily.
“We are optimistic about the crop as the season ramps up in the coming weeks and we move past the supply shortages," Keith says. “For now, the market should stay active based on the low daily shipments.”
Keith has also observed the growing demand for cherries in recent years, and that hopefully volumes will peak between May 5th and May 20th making cherries a sought after category.
“King Fresh is selling out daily on California Cherries. We have a lot of customers who appreciate our loading location near stonefruit and blueberries in Kingsburg,” Keith adds.
Looking forward, growers see a strong Bing crop as we head into the second half of the season, and as of today, growers can see ample volume on the horizon to meet consumer demand.
With California's tempermental weather, and tentative upcoming rains, we will be sure to keep you in the loop on all things cherries.