Northwest cherry crop update

Written by   Ken Gaudion

John Baker of Produce Marketing Australia has kindly provided an update from Northwest Cherries (in the USA).
John notes that while the season is coming to a close, there is still fruit available from late-season orchards, and that 227,639 cartons of cherries (20 lb equivalent) had been shipped to Australia at the end of July—closing in on making shipments the largest in the last six seasons.

Northwest cherry crop update (August)
The end of harvest is on the horizon. Cherry trucks still make up a fair bit of traffic but their numbers are certainly decreasing from the peak flow of the past few weeks.
More and more shippers are wrapping up for the season, but it's quite clear that a steady volume will be maintained thanks to the late season orchards yet to be picked.
Those that we walked through bore cherries that certainly held up to the description we'd been giving them, "fruit of absolutely incredible quality."
Aggregated daily shipment volume is steadily decreasing, but we have spoken with a number of growers who estimate they will pick throughout August. This critical, steady flow of Northwest cherries will allow supply for late season sales opportunities and visible merchandising in key impulse sales locations.
It will take some time to tally the final July shipments, but based on the initial numbers it appears that this will be the Northwest's second largest July. With one day left of shipping data to include, the current total of 13.7 million boxes through July 30 will none-the-less be second behind 2017s 15-million boxes.
To date, exports have made up 35% of all Northwest cherry shipments.
Demand for yellow-fleshed cherries has been increasing, in part as a response to a slightly longer window of availability brought about by the relatively recent expansion of earlier-ripening sub-varieties.
Promotion
In-store radio ads, circular messaging, dietitian/nutritionist programs and retailer social media programs are all shifting over to "Buy Now, Freeze Now" or "Rinse, Pack, Freeze" messaging within the retail channel.
Over the past few winters, the NWCG has been building and promoting holiday and winter recipes to encourage use of our Northwest sweet cherries throughout the off-season.
By encouraging shoppers to buy our fresh cherries now for their stated health benefits, while seeding the idea of healthy, cold-weather treats to come, we're lighting up a pathway to purchase for late season sales.
Along with other countdown-type promotions, the NWCG is sponsoring targeted social media advertisements created to show the ease of freezing Northwest cherries. This type of video recipe/demonstration is the current best-practice in reaching key demographic groups with information designed to remove emotional barriers at the point-of-purchase.
Cherries can appear cumbersome to process for some, but a simple video can help educate those most likely to increase purchase size now for their use later.
Customers throughout the world are driven to buy cherries, more often than not, based on the appearance of the cherries on display. Fortunately, size and colour are premium this season.

See this article in Tree Fruit August 2018

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