Hanford, Calif.-based Flavor Tree Fruit Co. LLC now is focusing on specialty items for the California summer fruit deal, and perhaps its biggest is its Verry Cherry plum – a high-brix fruit cross between various cherry and plum varieties, said Maurice Cameron, president.
Flavor Tree expects to begin harvesting Verry Cherries this year in about the third week of June, with the deal going into August, Cameron said.
Volume this year is projected to grow by more than 100% over a year ago, Cameron said.
“It’s about a 200,000-box program and will be about a half million-box program this year,” he said.
“It’s been really successful, and we’re in all sorts of retailers now — national retailers and regional, as well as specialty retailers. It’s been extremely successful from the customers telling stores to carry the items. Some stores, we’re looking at programs that are 89% larger than 2018.”
Flavor Tree offers Verry Cherry in 1.5- to 2-pound, high-graphic pouch bags and 1-pound clamshells, Cameron said.
The Verry Cherry is “juicy like a plum and has the size of a small plum, but from the cherry side, it's crunchy and sweet and has a nice cherry flavor,” Cameron said.
The company also exports the item, he said.
“We export a lot of it to mainland China, even with all the tariffs and trade wars,” Cameron said. “We did about 40,000 boxes in 2018, even with 50% tariffs.”
Flavor Tree has rights to almost all Verry Cherries grown, with about 450 acres in production, Cameron said.
“Somebody else has 18 acres that was planted before we signed the contract, but we are pretty much the game for it,” he said.
“Almost all of it is grown in the Hanford area.”
The Verry Cherry season runs from June 20 to about Aug. 15, Cameron said.