Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers plans several organic developments this summer.
Brianna Shales, communications manager, said the company is winding down on organic apples and pears after a good season. It is now looking forward to the cherry and stone fruit season.
“We will have organic cherries available from California from mid-May to mid-June, and then we’ll start the organic cherry season in Washington, which will run from mid-June to mid-August. There will be a lot of organic cherries coming to stores,” she said.
Shales said that even though organic cherries aren’t a large portion of the market, there is still demand for them.
“Organic cherries are still a small percentage of the cherry business because they are difficult to grow, but consumers enjoy them,” she said.
This year, the company plans to offer organic cherries and apricots in a pouch bag, which is a trend for the industry, Shales said.
“For cherries, the pouch bag is kind of the next big thing,” she said.
The bag will stand up in the refrigerator and has a zipper closure, making it easy for consumers to use.
“It’s a real convenience item,” Shales said.
The pouches, which will be available in a variety of weights, are specifically designed for the organic products.
“The organic cherry pouches are random weight, anywhere from 1.25 to 2.25 pounds. The apricot bag would be 1.6 pounds, but is also random weight for flexibility,” Shales said.
“It’s our first season doing this, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results from the retail and consumer end. We think it will be a great premium package to help market organics,” Shales said.
The company plans to offer different bags for conventional fruit, according to Shales, and will continue to have non-pouch options available.
The company’s stone fruit production, which is entirely organic, will begin in mid-July, according to Shales.
Stemilt’s focus for the stone fruit production is exceptional taste, which they say comes from the organic methods by which it is grown, including the compost material that fertilizes the trees and directly benefits the fruit.
All of Stemilt’s organic products are sold under the Artisan Organic label.