The dog days of Summer have finally reached the inland Pacific Northwest.
While most of harvest has progressed to cooler and higher elevation sites, the pace increased moderately over the weekend in orchards with fruit that was ready to pick as some growers took advantage of preferable morning and evening temperatures. Our growers have several counter-measures to keep their orchards cool while their fruit continues to mature towards their high quality benchmarks. Partly because of growers’ temperature-attuned efforts throughout the year, the cherries this season remain remarkably large and dark, with high sugars and fantastic shelf appeal. Thankfully, our industry is anticipating several weeks of promotable volume yet to come. Read on for more details…
Through Thursday, the 25th of July, the Northwest cherry industry has shipped 9,745,008 twenty-pound equivalent boxes. Beginning on the 8th of June, Thursday was the 48th day of shipments this season.
With such strong, late-producing orchards, the second half of the Northwest cherry crop makes for excellent displays. And that’s all the better, since purchase data shows that many single-bag buyers don’t make that purchase until they realize the season’s countdown clock is ticking.
The chart above plots Nielsen-tracked fresh cherry purchases by User group [Light (1 bag); Medium (2-3 bags); and Super (4+ bags)] throughout the Northwest cherry crop. All three groups show a rise in purchases during the Late Season, but that’s especially the case with Light users, illustrating the need to continue driving awareness and visibility.
More details and data about the crop can be found below. However, since the importance of the Northwest late season is hard to overstate, the following infographic breaks down the U.S. retail impact into more detail. (click to enlarge)
It seems clear by now that we will ship near, or slightly above the Round 4 July estimate of 7.5 million boxes. Additional July volume will come at the expense of the projected 2022 August volume of 1.9 million boxes and/or the small but measurable volume in September. If you haven’t locked in your late season promotions to take advantage of this late running season, now is the time to contact your Northwest Cherries representative!
The larger shipping days of the 2022 Northwest Rainier crop may be behind us, but there are still some high elevation and later regions with a few yellow cherries yet to keep displays eye-catching. Unfortunately their crop was small this year, but their impact on our consumer feedback was outsized!
The summer is heating up in the Northwest, and so are the marketing promotions. A short crop doesn’t reduce the need for continued consumer education about the health benefits of cherries, and in fact, requires more effort on everyone’s part to ensure they know the limited window for fresh cherries is upon them. With nearly 2/3 of shoppers reporting that the health benefits of cherries impacted (or would impact) their decision to purchase them in every survey we’ve conducted, even a short season provides opportunities to help make those connections at the shelf.