The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association's Sonia Tighe and Florida Classic Growers' Al Finch Talk Florida Peach Peak
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
FLORIDA - As Florida’s peach crop approaches its peak, the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation (FSCF), non-profit organization of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, is ramping up attention for retailers to maximize the benefits of the season’s brief window.
Sonia Tighe, Executive Director, took the time to discuss the season with me.
“We have been promoting to the retailers in March prior to our peak period in April,” Sonia explains. “To reach consumers, we have a Facebook page to keep them posted that the crop will be coming and to ask their retailers for it.”
Available early April through mid-May, the crop is looking good and on track. The FSCF started its grant for this particular program in 2017, which Sonia says is the first time there was any overall industry promotion.
The Florida peach is tree-ripened with tremendous flavor, and Sonia explains that consumers who participated in sampling provided very positive feedback about the fruit.
While Hurricane Irma posed concern, Sonia says that, for the majority of the growers, the trees survived and the unusual cold weather Florida experienced helped with the chill hours the trees needed.
Al Finch of Florida Classic Growers also told me that Mother Nature has been kind to the peaches after testing growers over the last couple of seasons.
“We are excited about the upcoming Florida peach season. As far as volume is concerned, we lost some crops from weather incidents the last couple of years and are now looking to rebound this season. The peaches have received good chill hours this year, which in turn is going to produce a higher yielding crop. We anticipate our volume to be more than the previous season. Demand continues to increase each year as the message gets out about these delicious 'ready-to-eat' peaches, full of great flavor and taste,” Al tells me.
He also explains that Florida peach season begins as Chile wraps up their season, and the Florida season finishes before Georgia, South Carolina, or California peaches kick off theirs, historically.
“Having an exclusive marketing window during the month of April and the first week of May, allows us to fill in the gap in the marketplace,” he shares.
The week of April 9th we will see volume pick up, with peak weeks falling between April 16 and May 12th. However, the ready-to-eat peaches will be available through the week of May 21st.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the retail reaction. We focused heavily on in-store sampling last year, which yielded tremendous results,” Sonia tells me. “The Florida peach crop has a unique market window from mid-March to May. It is literally ready-to-eat when the consumer purchases it.”
Don’t miss your chance at the brief window for this stonefruit staple, just in time for consumers shopping with Spring Fever!