Good Fruit Grower

May 15

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22 MAY 15, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Marketers strategize about how to keep consumers buying cherries in the late season. by Geraldine Warner s the peak of Pacific Northwest cherry produc- tion shifts from July into August, it's going to take higher quality fruit to overcome consumer cherry fatigue, marketers say. Traditionally, Northwest cherry shipments peaked around the Fourth of July holiday, but extensive plantings of late-maturing varieties in recent years are shifting that peak. In 2012, when the region produced a record 23 million packed boxes, 4.6 million boxes (20 percent of the crop) were sold in August. Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing with Chelan Fresh in Chelan, Washington, said selling late cherries is challenging because of customers' cherry fatigue. There's pent-up demand in the spring going into the California cherry deal, but by the time Washington's late districts are shipping fruit, that enthusiasm is waning. That puts pressure on producers to provide a great eat- ing experience in order to entice customers to keep buy- ing cherries through July and August, he said. "It's like if you encounter this guy coming out of the desert after a three-week trip, you can probably give him a warm glass of muddy water and he'll chug it down," Riggan said. "But two days back into society, he wants a bottle of chilled Evian. That's what we're up against—we have to be chilled Evian the whole time and it's hard to be that way." Riggan and others discussed marketing late cherries at the annual North Central Washington Stone Fruit Day last winter in Wenatchee, Washington. Riggan said the worst thing a marketer can do is have a great promotion for a poor product. PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHWEST CHERRY GROWERS Images such as this reinforce the cherry's position with consumers as a healthy food choice. Overcoming CHERRY FATIGUE

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