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Opportunities for retailers to extend the season
Late cherry season puts British Columbia in unique position
The last cherry region in North America to come into production is British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and the cherry crop in this area is coming along well. “We had fairly warm weather during blossom, which made for a good crop set,” says Julie McLachlan with Jealous Fruits. Harvest of the early varieties such as Burgundy Pearl, Satin, Vans, Suite Note, Santina and Kordia is scheduled for July 15 with limited volumes for the first ten days. The main harvest will start around July 25th and continues through September 8. “We save the best for last.”
The Skeena variety coming along nicely
New sorting and packing facility, more acreage
Jealous Fruits is vertically integrated and has aggressive growth plans for the next few years. At the moment, the company has 650 acres of cherry trees planted and each year, for the next three years, the company will plant an additional 150 acres. Next year, the 100-acre high-elevation Eldorado Farm will come into commercial production. The trees were planted in 2015 and will allow Jealous Fruits to extend its season by seven to ten days. In addition, a new sorting and packing facility will be operational at the start of the 2019 season. “It’s a 50-acre site near Kelowna airport with highway access,” said McLachlan. “The facility will include 24-lane optical sizing equipment with the ability to expand to 36 lanes and will allow us to grow from a 30,000-sq. ft. facility to a 125,000-sq. ft. facility. Our current plant includes a 12-lane optical sorting line and will continue to be used for packing niche varieties such as Kordia, Regina and Sovereign.
The Eldorado Farm will be in production in 2018 and will extend the cherry season by 7-10 days. In future years, harvest will finish mid-September.
Demand exceeds supplies
Jealous Fruits’ success and expansion plans are driven by the popularity of Canadian cherries in markets like China, Vietnam, Thailand, USA and the Middle East. “Right now, we can’t meet our customers’ demand,” mentioned McLachlan. Demand for cherries is frenetic around Asia’s Moon Festival as well as China National Day, which is October 1st. By that time BC is the only player in the market. “We will also have plenty of supplies for US Labor Day.”
According to McLachlan the popularity of cherries can be attributed to its seasonality. Because they are not available year-round, consumers want to get them while they can.
2 kg. box
Although the majority (85-90%) of Jealous Fruits’ business is fresh, the company is also targeting the frozen cherry market. “We are happy with where the frozen business is going and will be freezing from mid-July until early September.” Frozen product of this year’s crop is shipped out until June 2018 to customers in Canada, USA, China, Thailand and Vietnam.
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