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Sunny Valley touts cranberries for the holidays

The state of New Jersey is the third-largest cranberry supplier in the United States, and because the Glassboro, NJ-based Sunny Valley International harvests a few weeks later than most other growing areas, it enables the company to ship a fresher product.

“We offer locally grown cranberries that are packed fresh to order to ensure the highest quality,” said Robert Von Rohr, director of marketing for the company. “Sunny Valley’s cranberries are marketed under the Jersey Fruit brand, and they carry the Jersey Fresh from the Garden State logo.”

2015-09-21-14.59.19 Working with its growing partner, Shamong, NJ-based Whalen Farms, Sunny Valley International expects to start harvesting cranberries in early October, with the program continuing until the end of December. That will mean a strong supply to cover the all-important Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.

“Fresh cranberry dishes on holiday tables has been a long tradition for many families,” Von Rohr said. “Overall, the crop is looking to be a very nice full crop for our Jersey Fruit fresh harvested cranberries.”

The company’s cranberry varieties include Ben Lear, which offer great color and are good for premium poly bag packs, and the Stevens variety, which are large fruit, lighter in color and are good for premium poly bags or bulk. The latter is also great for ornamental use.

At Whalen Farms, only specialized equipment is utilized to guarantee that only premium, full — color berries are packed.

“Jersey Fruit’s specialized equipment sorts out shriveled and small fruit, and white cranberries are sorted out with a color sorter,” Von Rohr said. “The fruit then goes through a final sorting process and is packed into poly bags.”

Additionally, he noted that Whalen Farms’ vines are trained for less mechanical damage to fruit, and combined with the dry harvest culture, advanced packing technologies and a commitment to high-quality standards, the result is a superior quality of the crop.

“Whalen Farms’ custom fertility program ensures improved fruit size, and its harvest equipment is customized to minimize fruit damage,” he said. “This enhances the berry quality because the berries are never submerged in water. While this is much more labor intensive at harvest time, we believe the wholesome, fresh quality of dry picked and packaged cranberries allows us to provide our customers with a superior product.”

There are three pack sizes: 24 12-ounce poly bags; six three-pound poly bags; and 20-pound bulk boxes. All contain nutritional information and recipes on the packages.

“That’s important because people are drawn to the health benefits of cranberries,” Von Rohr said. “They are known for their antioxidants.”

While he said cranberries sell themselves come holiday time because they are a staple at the table, Von Rohr would like to see retailers do a bit more during the other winter months.

“That includes cross merchandising,” he said. “Not only with other holiday-related items but with products that will be enjoyed on any fall or winter dinner table.”