Although volume for the 2014 cherry crop doesn’t look like it will be a record-setter, Columbia Marketing International, headquartered in Wenatchee, WA, anticipates a highly promotable crop. Katharine Grove, a member of the CMI marketing team, characterized the fruit set as moderate, “not overloaded. This most likely will yield larger, better-tasting cherries.” But she cautioned, “It is still a little too early to tell.”
Grove said the harvest will likely begin on June 4 with light volume. An early peak is expected the week of June 23, with a late peak following the July 4 holiday. Production will conclude in early September.
CMI markets a full cherry manifest. “We are expecting a beautiful crop of Rainiers,” she said of the popular variety. “We will begin harvest the third week of June from Mattawa and expect excellent size and eating quality. Peak volume should occur late June and early July.”
Cherries are marketed under the “CMI” and “Nature’s Candy” labels to domestic customers. “Additional labels are packed for the export markets,” Grove said of volume moved to Asia, Europe, South America and Australia.
Grove said CMI is excited about its new 36-lane Compac optical sorting cherry line. “This line is going into our Columbia Fruit location,” she stated. “Compac uses a unique carrier system, advanced software electronics and precise measurement systems to sort cherries by weight, size, color, shape, density, blemish or defects, taste, internal characteristics and more. The result is the best-tasting and most firm cherry arrives to the retailer and is enjoyed by our consumer.”
CMI plans to continue marketing cherries in its new pouch bag introduced last season. “Last year was a huge success for our retail partners that took the pouch, as they saw roughly 11 percent less shrink with the pouch, and sold the product more quickly,” Grove stated. “Last year, roughly 50 percent of our retail partners took the pouch, when this year 98 percent are moving to the pouch after seeing its success in the 2013 season.”
Grove said CMI continually strives to reinvent packaging “with the goal of delivering our fruit in its best condition and making it look attractive to the consumer. We have put a large focus on tying social media into our packaging over the last year and received a tremendous response from fans throughout the country that are interested in where their fruit is grown, sustainability, recipes and more.”
CMI has welcomed two new staff members to the company. Malinda League is the company’s newest sales assistant and Garret Joeckel is its new production and sales analyst.