( Stemilt Growers )

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers is helping retailers prepare for a long season of cherry sales.

In a new Fruit Tracker Fast Facts video analysis of retail scan data, Stemilt said cherries made up 4.7% of fresh produce sales on average during their 20-week summer season in 2018. 

The analysis said the average store sold 488 pounds per week for $1,542 dollars, both of which were down by double-digits from the 2017 cherry season.

“Last year’s crop shortage on early-season cherries when compared to 2017 was the likely cause for the dip,” Brianna Shales, Stemilt communications manager, said in the release. The 2019 cherry crop in California is expected to start later than it did in 2018 but has high potential to break volume records. 

The late start means retailers must plan for California cherry promotions in late May through June, according to the release.
In 2018, dark-sweet cherries sold for $3.08 per pound on average in the U.S., up 12.7% from the 2017 crop. Golden rainier cherries made up 5.2% of the cherry category volume in 2018 but 7.8% of category dollars with an average retail price of $4.71 per pound.

Organic cherries made up 1.1% of the volume but sold for high retail prices. In 2018, organic cherries commanded a 41% average retail price per pound premium over conventionally grown cherries, according to the release.

The big crop of Stemilt’s California cherries will be followed by an even bigger July crop in Washington, according to the release. Stemilt will round out its cherry season with continued promotion opportunities in August, according to the release.

“There is lots of optimism in the air around cherries, and we are ready to get our long season started,” Shales said in the release.