(UPDATED COVERAGE, Feb. 11) The Oppenheimer Group, the Vancouver, B.C.-based marketing giant, has taken its first plunge into the domestic cherry industry.
Oppenheimer has reached a multiyear, exclusive marketing agreement for domestic and export sales with Orchard View Farms, The Dalles, Ore., a major Pacific Northwest grower-shipper of cherries.
The plunge into the U.S. cherry industry is a big one. Orchard View Farms produces an annual cherry volume of about 9.000 tons, said Brenda Thomas, president and general manager. That volume makes Orchard View Farms one of the Northwest’s largest cherry grower-shippers, she said, and perhaps the largest cherry only grower.
“We just do cherries. Our passion is for cherries,” Thomas said.
Until this season, Orchard View Farms cherries had been marketed by Oakland, Calif.-based Grant J. Hunt Co. The switch to Oppenheimer offers a larger sales network, Thomas said.
“With its broad-based domestic distribution, sales, marketing and business development network, Oppenheimer delivers a distinct value proposition that no other marketer can match,” she said.
The cherries will continue to carry the Orchard View Farms label, Thomas said, and will complement supplies that Oppen-heimer imports from the Southern Hemisphere during the winter.
Orchard View Farms is a fourth generation family-owned grower-shipper that has 1,800 cherry-producing acres on both sides of the Columbia River Gorge, the boundary between Oregon and Washington. The fruit is packed at the company’s headquarters in The Dalles, which is just a few miles east of Oppenheimer’s White Salmon, Wash. office.
“We believe our partnership can deliver meaningful value to our customers by providing a new fresh cherry option,” John Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Oppenheimer, said in a news release.
Shipping of the Orchard View Farms’ cherries is scheduled to begin in June and to continue until mid-August, Thomas said. The farm grows several varieties of cherries, including bing, chelan, gibraltar, lapin, rainier, regina, skeena, sweetheart and tieton.
The Orchard View Farms packinghouse and its orchards are certified by Nature’s Choice, EurepGAP and Food Alliance, Thomas said. The fruit is packed in View Fresh modified atmosphere bags developed by the grower-shipper to extend shelf life.