Bridges Produce Gets Ready for a Busy Cherry and Blueberry Season with New Packaging and an Extended Season
- by Kayla Webb
PORTLAND, OR - In the produce aisle, the arrival of June means retailers are gearing up for the start of the Northwest organic cherry and blueberry seasons. Luckily for retailers, Bridges Organic Produce has its buy-side partners’ backs—and bottom lines—with its ever-expanding, ever-evolving programs.
“We have a very strong continuous program of organic blueberries and cherries from a group of premium growers in various micro-climates throughout the Northwest,” said Ben Johnson, President. “This will provide us with top quality fruit from the very start of the season through to the very end of the season on both blueberries and cherries."
Johnson continued, "Our growers are primarily packing in their own labels to maintain their unique identity in the market and to garner recognition for their premium quality fruit. We will also have a Bridges label blueberry to give us additional flexibility for growers.”
The Bridges team is anticipating strong availability of blueberries lasting until late September, with peak availability starting late June through July.
“We are excited about the development of a Bridges label for 4.4 oz, 6 oz, pint, and 18 oz blueberry clamshells,” said Sydney Fairchild, Marketing. “This is the first time we have branded any berries under the Bridges label and by doing so we are able to continue to grow and evolve the program by partnering with farms who do not have their own label. The new packing is clean and simple, ensuring the customer is able to easily see the beautiful fruit that we pride ourselves on.”
Category Lead Michael McMillian added, “For our Northwest grower partners, it is all about the customer eating experience, and you can taste the difference. Northwest blueberries turn blue long before they are ready to eat, our partners wait to pick the fruit, continuing to test the brix to ensure the berries are fully mature and very flavorful. They also achieve this excellent eating quality by heavily pruning the bushes which yields large fruit size.”
As part of its cherry program, Bridges is working with a new grower partner to extend its Dark Sweet Cherry season an additional month. This will create a season that lasts from early June through mid-August. In addition, Bridges is also offering Rainier Cherries through mid-July. According to a press release, there will be shortages in the beginning of this year’s Northwest cherry season.
“It was a heavy frost year, so early dark sweet cherries will be in very short supply, but we expect promotional numbers on the Rainiers leading up to the Fourth of July and the later reds are looking great,” added McMillian.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Bridges and its growers are implementing new sanitation and social distancing protocols both in the fields and in the packinghouses.
“2020 is a completely unusual year, we are looking forward to cherries and blueberries. It will feel like the first normal thing we have done all year,” shared Mark Lapierre, one of Bridges Northwest partners who packs both blueberries and cherries under a separate label.
Overall, Bridges Organic Produce is rearing and ready to transition to summer with the arrival of its Northwest organic blueberries and cherries, both of which boast superfood health benefits.
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