CALIFORNIA - April showers are bringing May cherries, and as bloom is happening for orchards in Washington State, the coveted cherry season is nearing kick-off in California. In anticipation of the cherry deal, I connected with Brianna Shales, Communications Manager of Stemilt Growers, to discuss what retailers can expect from this year's season, the grower's newest brand, and retail tips for capitalizing on this key summertime fruit.
“We’re two weeks away from the California season, with the earliest fruit expected around May 1st,” Brianna shares. “Production will ramp up quickly from there, and retailers should expect key promotional periods between May 11 through June 3rd, with Memorial Day offering a great opportunity for sales.”
Stemilt, who grows cherries in multiple California regions, will see a heavy emphasis on cherries out of the Patterson/Tracy area north of Kern County, with unique new varieties coming into production. Brianna tells me that, as a whole, customers can expect to see good volumes out of California this season, barring any weather interruptions.
“You will see lots of Corals and Royal varieties from Stemilt. These varieties ripen early and have turned the historic Patterson growing district into one that is booming. Both are very high-quality, size nicely, and look great on the tree this year,” Brianna tells me. “Retailers can anticipate a long cherry season with Stemilt, starting in May in California, before moving to Washington in June, and wrapping up with our high-altitude orchards in late August.”
As an impulse item with a short season of four months, cherries offer retailers the opportunity for ample promotion. Because of this, the demand tends to swing upward year-after-year. Brianna tells me that, with the excellent quality expected out of California, there are good retail dollars to be made on cherries, and plenty of chances to delight customers. Brianna adds that retailers looking to boost the ring at the register should focus on cherries as an impulse item, and keep bringing consumers back with an emphasis on high-quality fruit.
In addition, towards the later half of the California deal, Stemilt will be packing cherries from the Delta region of the state, which provided inspiration for the company’s 5 River Islands Cherries brand.
“This new brand offers large sizes and great qualities, and gives retailers the opportunity to tie the product back to the location the fruit comes from,” Brianna adds. “The Delta is an agricultural gem and has a special story to make a great finale at retail for California cherries, before production shifts to Washington State.”
In addition to Corals and Royals, Rainiers are part of the California cherry deal. Brianna tells me that the key promotion timing for Rainiers will be May 8th through June 1st, starting in the southern part of the state, shifting in the next two weeks to all regions, and then moving north as the state wraps up.
When I ask Brianna what her number one tip would be for retailers this cherry season, she smiles and tells me, “Make sure you don’t treat any one cherry season the same! This year's California crop will be up in volume over last year, so it’s important to refresh plans and stay on top of the crop. Cherry season is always evolving.”
How will the season progress? Stay tuned with AndNowUKnow as we follow along.