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Larger than average size

Increase in Washington cherry volumes expected

Washington State growers are waiting anxiously for an auspicious cherry season, including Stemilt Growers who expects an increase in cherry volumes over last year, and its typical larger than average cherry sizes. As the home for big cherries, Stemilt is helping retailers target their cherry category around size because of the flavor and quality differences larger fruit offers shoppers.

“It’s a fact that bigger is better when it comes to cherries,” states Roger Pepperl, marketing director at Stemilt. “And here at Stemilt, we emphasis that point to our retailers time and time again – bigger cherries make for better sales.”

Big cherries are not only appealing to look at it, but they deliver a better flavor profile as well. Big cherries naturally have more sugars, making them sweeter and more firm than the average 10 ½ row cherry. Past research conducted at Washington State University found that fruit size directly correlates to the (Brix) sugar levels within a cherry. With high sugar levels, larger cherries have more complex flavors and result in a better consumer eating experience.

“For most shoppers, cherries are an impulse purchase. Big displays of high-quality fruit drive the first cherry purchase, and the fruit’s flavor and overall eating experience drives repeat purchases,” Pepperl says. “While they have a short season, cherries are a big dollar generator to the produce department and retailers who promote around size and flavor are the ones that find greatest success.”

In fact, according to data reported by Northwest Cherry Growers, 71 percent of cherry purchases are impulse buys. With that, Pepperl suggests to use Stemilt’s big cherry size and premium cherry programs as an advantageous selling point that captures the attention of the consumer. Then place these large sized cherries in prominent, heavy-traffic areas in attractive and alluring displays that will encourage consumers to make the purchase. 

“Stemilt’s Kyle’s Pick™ cherries are one way to differentiate through size at retail, and July is the key time to promote these,” said Pepperl. “We reserve select varieties and our biggest and best cherries for these specially marked packs because those are the exact qualities that its namesake, 4th generation grower Kyle Mathison, farms during this timeframe.“ 

Growing and selling big cherries is not a new farming tactic for Stemilt, rather a legacy that continues to be practiced horticulturally. Tom Mathison, founder and farming pioneer, began strategically growing cherries for size in the early 1960s when Stemilt was first founded. Tom pruned his cherry trees in ways that allowed his trees to flourish and yield larger sizes and higher qualities. Today, Stemilt remains the home for big cherries because of that foresight and a continued commitment to growing cherries for size and flavor. The company is able to pack size consistently now better than ever after adopting innovative electronic packing equipment, which allows for optical sizing and grading of cherries.

“Tom had it figured out long before others in the industry did, and today’s optic sizing technology allows us to deliver on what he always envisioned,” says Pepperl. “At Stemilt, being the home for big cherries is all about growing the best tasting fruit in order to delight shoppers all summer long.” 

For more information:
Brianna Shales
Stemilt Growers LLC
Tel: +1 509 662 9667 x1221

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