Cherry industry bouncing back with big promotion plans - The Packer

Cherry industry bouncing back with big promotion plans

06/14/2013 02:38:00 PM
David Mitchell

Michigan produces, on average, nearly 184 million pounds of red tart cherries each year.

Last year, the state harvested less than 12 million pounds.

As a result, the Cherry Marketing Institute — which promotes cherries from Michigan, New York, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin — had less to promote and a much smaller budget than expected.

“We’ve been dark on trade media because of budget constraints,” said Michael Wehman, head of the Lansing, Mich.-based group’s promotion program.

“We’re back in full force.”

The institute will launch a robust trade media advertising campaign in July, targeting ingredient decision makers in foodservice and food manufacturing.

From July through September, ads will run in food industry magazines.

Phillip Korson, executive director of the Michigan Cherry Committee, DeWitt, said the industry is expecting “a good crop with really good quality.”

Accordingly, Wehman said the institute’s ad campaign will continue through the end of this year and throughout 2014.

“We’re planning to be back to a full crop and 12 months of active promotions,” he said.

The institute’s plans for retail promotions had not been finalized at press time.

The organization, however, is planning to revisit a popular media campaign in which it invites journalists and bloggers to tour Michigan orchards during harvest.

Korson said harvest should start the second week in July and last into mid-August.

Wehman said the group expects about a dozen writers to attend the 2½ day event in Traverse City, Mich., which will include orchard tours, nutrition education, dinner with area chefs and a visit to the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center.

“They will experience cherry country first hand during one of the most exciting times of the year,” he said.

Wehman said the experience creates long-term advocates for cherries.

“There are people who write about us for years to come because they’re connected to the industry,” he said.

“The best spokespeople for the industry are the growers themselves. When we give the media a chance to interact with the growers, it’s amazing. The stories that come out of it are unlike anything we can get out of a press release or a phone interview.”



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