WENATCHEE, Wash. – With Washington cherries on the way, Stemilt is expecting much greater volume this year. The grower expects a steady supply of its Washington cherries will make opportunity for promotion during peak volumes in July. Stemilt vice president of sales and marketing, Mike Taylor, explains the crop will be 10 days later than last year, but if retailers hang on, they’ll see great success this season.
“We’re very excited for the cherry crop this year,” says Taylor. “It should be a great season because cherry volumes will be much larger this year. The season is behind so we’re expecting Washington cherries by June 15. This will shift sales dollars back on the calendar, but if you stay in it, you’ll see outstanding sales results.”
The last two crops of cherries have experienced multiple weather challenges from record cold springs to record hot summers. This resulted in decreased volumes and hindered quality. This season, there won’t be any gaps between the California and Washington state crops providing consistent supplies. This will grant ample opportunity for retailers to reach new category top line sales growth with Stemilt cherries. Focusing on a high-quality program is key in standing out from competition and driving total produce sales, Taylor stated.
“The best advice I can give to retailers is to expand your cherry assortment, don’t miss any weeks, make a plan and adjust as necessary, and secure promotional spots,” says Taylor. “We are positive for July 4 promotions regardless of shipping locations. Dark sweet cherries, Rainier’s, Skylar Rae® and organic cherries are promotable all of July. Our later season A Half Mile Closer to the Moon® cherries should harvest in the early days of September this season.”
The July cherry promotion timing also aligns with Stemilt’s Kyle’s Pick® brand. This recently redesigned brand features eye-catching packaging that is filled with the top-quality cherries from each day’s harvest that must meet stringent firmness and sugar standards.
“Cherries are an impulse purchase and quality drives repeat purchases,” said Taylor. “Kyle’s Pick® offers retailers with packages that were curated for quality and a promise to deliver a great eating experience. It helps set the stage for repeat purchases during the July peak, and late-season cherries in August.”
Taylor predicts more aggressive Cherry FOB prices this year, but strong enough to not create category deflation. The combination of increased supplies and steady availability will set the table for increased top line sales numbers at retail. Using catch weight bags sold by the pound with scale units will help during key promotion weeks. Top seal and 3 lb. clamshells are also useful tools for selling by the unit and for online shopping.
“I encourage you to celebrate National Rainier Cherry Day on July 11 because this will fall in perfect time during peak volumes,” says Taylor. “Consumer excitement is building, and we can’t wait to find success with retailers with great tasting, big cherries this season that will deliver on our mission to delight consumers through excellence.”
Stemilt is a family-owned grower, packer, and shipper of tree fruit. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt’s mission is to cultivate people and delight consumers with its World Famous Fruits. Stemilt is a leader in sweet cherries and organic tree fruits, and a key supplier of apples and pears. The company stewards an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business through its Responsible Choice® program, which has been in place since 1989. For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com.