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Delta Packing continues success with California cherries

Delta Packing is a grower, packer and shipper for California cherries. This year, the company is expecting to pack 1 million cartons, approximately 35 percent of what is packed being company-owned fruit.

Paul Poutre, general manager, sales and marketing for the Lodi, CA-based company, said Delta Packing will harvest the fruit with seasonal labor and bring it to its home base to pack to its customer’s specifications.775167568JS020 California s

“From there, we hydro-cool the fruit in-line and process it through the packing facility to order,” he said. “We pack all the major varieties including Bings, Brooks, Corals, Tulares, Rainers and some of the Royal varieties.”

Success, he said, comes from being knowledgeable in all three aspects of the chain — growing, packing and shipping.

“It allows you to endure the low markets,” Poutre said. “Being reliable is important. You want to pack a consistent box of fruit and control quality from start to finish.”

Delta Packing prides itself on the lasting relationships it has established with some of the best cherry growers throughout California, and each season it progresses along with its growers to ensure the best practices and procedures are being utilized, and that the cherry growers have all the advanced growing cultures to grow and harvest premium cherries.

Packing a quality box of cherries for customers is the top goal for Delta Packing, which is why the company is continually upgrading and updating its packingline and technology to deliver a consistent box of cherries to our customers.

“We have a 32-lane, Compac optical cherry sorting, which has been a game changer for the cherry industry,” Poutre said. “These optical sorters size, defect sort, color sort and they can sort out the soft fruit. It’s definitely been a big improvement the last five years.”

In 2019, the company is updating the lighting in the Compac to high power LED, an upgrade that should improve image quality across the 32 lanes.

As far as packing goes, cherries remain a pretty standard category, providing high impact for produce departments, although there seems to be more conversations going on about fixed weight units over bags and clamshells.

On the retail level, Poutre feels big displays of cherries are important, as are demos.

“We feel that would help drive the cherry category,” he said. “Displays need to be visible to create an impulse sale. Beef up advertising when cherries are in peak harvest and be aggressive with price points.”

The company is investing in some acreage up in the Stockton area and there are some conversations going on about putting in a new optical sorter in the next few of years.

“There have been a few crop failures — most recently 2018 and 2014 — that decelerated our plans for expansion, but we definitely see another line in our future,” Poutre said. “We’re pretty optimistic right now. We can see the May crop, it looks promising.”