Retailers eagerly await opportunities to promote fresh cherries.

“Everybody is always excited about good cherry promotions,” said David Stone, an owner of Valhalla Sales & Marketing Co., Kingsburg, Calif. “It’s a really good item.”

Unlike commodities such as grapes or stone fruit, cherries still are mostly a seasonal item and readily lend themselves to promotions.

“It’s tougher to get cherries year-round,” Stone said. “It’s not an item people see every day in the store, so when they come out people love to buy cherries.”

Cherries are one of the highest rings retailers will get all year, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt Growers LLC, Wenatchee, Wash., which has a large cherry program in California.

“We don’t have a lot of trouble getting ads,” he said.

Stemilt supports promotions with signs, point-of-sale materials and display bins.

The only problem promoting California cherries is that the season comes and goes so quickly.

“We usually find that the California deal is so fast and furious that by the time the shelves get filled, and you have Memorial Day, you’re almost into (the Washington season),” Pepperl said.

The Flavor Tree Co. LLC, Hanford, Calif., the sales arm for Warmerdam Packing LLC, is looking forward to its first retail promotions for its proprietary cherries, said Maurice Cameron, president and global sales manager.

The company will start with its Sequoia variety.

This season will be the first time the company will conduct a chainwide promotion with a major retailer that will be devoted exclusively to proprietary cherries, he said.

“It’s new ground for us and it’s very exciting.”

Memorial Day

Delta Packing Co. of Lodi Inc., Lodi, Calif., may conduct limited Mother’s Day promotions this season, but general manager Paul Poutre said ads were looking good for Memorial Day, May 27.
The brooks and coral varieties should be coming off by early May and should be in good supply by Memorial Day, he said.

Later, as the tulare and bing varieties come on, volume might drop a bit, he said.

“If that happens, we’ll pick and choose our ads,” Poutre said.

Rivermaid Trading Co., Lodi, Calif., will work with its core customers to develop customized promotional programs for California cherries this season, said Mike Isola, salesman.

The company purchased Wes Pak Sales Inc., Dinuba, Calif., last summer and has absorbed that company’s operation.

Rivermaid also handles sales for Farmington Fresh LLC, Stockton, Calif.

Social media push

Stemilt plans to support cherry promotions with an extensive social media campaign, Pepperl said.

The company plans to offer electronic digital downloads from a special Facebook page where the firm will share recipes with consumers, talk about ways to use cherries and conduct contests.

Stemilt expects to promote cherries on Pinterest and Twitter, as well, and change the face of its website to focus on cherries during the season.

The company also will work with bloggers to help spread the word about cherries.

“(The social media) community is getting pretty big for us,” Pepperl said. “We’re starting to get pretty big numbers every month.”

Stemilt also plans some special programs for the late season.