While most of the United States navigates a week of confusing vacation schedules and barbecues, the Northwest cherry industry will continue to push ahead in top gear without slowing. In fact, they've already been pushing ahead at new speeds. By the time additional boxes were tallied for last Monday, we had reached a new industry daily shipping record of 712,486 boxes. That was the first time our official Northwest box count has surpassed 700,000 boxes in one day. And then it did it again on Friday the 29th with 708,000 boxes. Those big days boosted the weekly average as well. Starting last Monday, the Northwest averaged 604,000 boxes of sweet cherries shipped per day for the week.
Early demand to fill both domestic and export retail channels has the industry in a "pick and ship" mode. To everyone's benefit, the relatively stable weather has kept our cherries in the sweet zone. The dessert quality of a bag of Northwest cherries is unparalleled right now, and steady, careful picking will keep those cherries coming in to the waiting refrigerated trucks.
June volume this year was every bit as strong as projected prior to the season. If the preliminary total of 11 million boxes for the month holds, that would make it the third largest June in industry history. The record setting week that closed out the month also carried June beyond our pre-season estimate of 9 million boxes. Clearly, the combined cherry volume from our early regions along with warmer-than-usual mid-season growing areas created the volume needed to support the strong June retail support we've seen.
The Rainiers and other yellow-fleshed cherries are making fans all over the globe, and fortunately there are (just) a few left to pick and share for the season. Most plans are set in stone for the July 11th holiday by now, but talk to your shippers today if you'd like to be on the list when more become available. Media campaigns across retail and digital spheres are underway to make sure that customers hear about their last chances for Rainier cherries from the Northwest.
Consumer media campaigns for this week were largely sought out, dug up and locked down months ago. However, we continue our mission as always to share not only images of our beautiful cherries but the fresh fruit itself. Sometimes our shipments lead to conversations about our health research. Those can turn into features, like the piece in the current issue of Martha Stewart's magazine shown above. Other times it'll be a conversation with the health researchers themselves, or with a simple influencer looking to build up his or her cherry recipes…like the one below from a Canbassador just beginning her cherry box challenge for the season. No matter how we're telling it, sweet cherries are becoming a year-round story in order to maintain the potency of our health information. But there is still something undeniably "fresh" and "summer" about cherries and the 4th of July. Fortunately, retailers and the media world agree….
Customers are driven to buy cherries, more often than not, based on the appearance of the cherries on display. Fortunately, size and color are premium this season.
While some growers or suppliers may see a gap in their weekly production … the industry itself should see consistent volume over the next month and a half.
If you need help promoting that message, contact your Northwest Cherries representative today.
Source: The Northwest Cherry Growers