Stemilt Growers' Brianna Shales Talks Organic Dark-Sweet Cherry Promotions and More
WENATCHEE, WA - We’re in the thick of summer, and one of the few respites from Sacramento’s relentless heat can be found in the crisp and cool cherries I keep fully stocked in my fridge. Retailers and lucky consumers can look to Stemilt Growers, as the company revs up for its most recent promotion for Artisan Organics™ dark-sweet cherries, led by the hit Skeena variety. With this exciting promotion in the works, consumers’ summertime needs are being met in big and delicious ways, Brianna Shales, Communications Manager, tells me of the promotional opportunities underway.
“We’re entering our final volume timeframe for organic cherries. Right now, we are starting on the Skeena variety, which is grown in several regions but predominantly on Stemilt Hill. There, our cherry grower, Kyle Mathison, farms them with passion and unique methods that include custom, prescription compost. Retailers should load for ads now through July 20th,” Brianna says.
With Stemilt’s promotion currently working its magic in retail locations, I have to know what sets this variety apart from others. Brianna tells me it’s all about flavor and sizing.
“Quality has been really good. We’ve been really fortunate in Washington because the weather has been mild, and very kind to cherry growers,” Brianna shares of Mother Nature’s impact on the season. “Skeena, as a variety, runs larger in size, and I think we’re going to see good, average sizing on these organic cherries. Quality should continue to be really high—sugars and sizing are both looking excellent this year.”
Packed under Stemilt’s Artisan Organics brand in either clamshells or pouch bags, organic Skeenas offer retailers the opportunity to grow their cherry category, Brianna stresses to me. Cherries are an important category during the summer months, with 3.5 percent of produce coming from cherries anually despite its short seasonality. Cherries are a must to promote organically, as the high-ring item can boost the organic category during the summer season, Brianna explains. To stay on top of this, she dives into how to differentiate organics from conventional to optimize consumer interest.
“Retailers have to get a little creative with organic ads, mostly with packaging and pricing. Preferably, we like to see a one dollar per pound difference between organic and conventional, but whether retailers integrate organic in their conventional cherry displays or segregate it by having it in an organic destination is up to their strategy. The big thing is to go on promotion with organic cherries, and right now with Stemilt, they can do that with back-to-back-to-back organic ads,” Brianna says, adding that there are different ways to boost sales for organic Skeenas this year. “Ads are a great way of drawing interest toward organics. You already have an organic buyer in the store, so they are seeking organics. Cherries are such an impulse purchase, so you can also attract shoppers by promoting the organic premium through size and flavor first.”
Ripening later than other cherry varieties from Stemilt, deep and dark organic Skeena cherries offer robust sizing and sweet flavors not to be missed this season. That’s the joy of summertime—cherries, cherries, and more cherries for me, please!