That was up strongly from an average of $26.13 per box in 2012 and slightly above the 2011 average of $34.04 per box.
“From our perspective up here, (California’s short crop) creates a really strong opportunity for retailers to come in hard and selling aggressively when the Northwest season starts because they will have a consumer that should be very hungry for our product,” Lutz said.
The progress of f.o.b. and retail pricing for cherries may depend on how quickly the crop flows into the market.
Last year, CMI category statistics showed the U.S. average retail price for all of 2013 was $3.52 per pound, up from $2.85 per pound in 2012.
F.o.b. prices may start the year very high, similar to last year, said Jon Bailey of The Dalles, Ore.-based Orchard View Farms, whose cherries are marketed by The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia.
There could be limited ads for June, with more spot business early, he said.
“We need to get down quickly by July or the end of June to more reasonable (prices) to make sure we have got momentum and ads placed for July Fourth and throughout July because July will be a huge month for the Northwest,” he said.
“It is always difficult lowering the price, but we have got to get there,” he said.
July promotion opportunities should be stellar, Lutz said.
“The old notion of the crop peaking at around the Fourth of July and then tailing off has really been rendered obsolete in the last few years,” he said.
“Retailers can plan and know that they will have promotable supplies all through the month of July,” he said.
Queen said Domex Superfresh is looking for retail ad support throughout the season from its retail customers, asking for one ad in June, three in July and one in August.
“We definitely want to encourage as many ads as possible,” he said.
The USDA reported the lowest retail ad price for cherries during the 2013 Washington season — $3.19 per pound — occurred the week of July 19.
In 2012, the lowest ad price of $2.51 per pound was recorded the week of Aug. 10, and in 2011, the lowest ad price of $2.65 per pound was recorded the week of July 15.
Fourth of July promotions are critical for the Northwest industry, but Bob Mast, president of CMI, said marketers also want ad support for high volume shipping periods the weeks of July 13 and July 20.
Ad prices in the $1.99-2.99 per pound range can move a lot of fruit, he said.