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Sunny Valley and Dixie Belle are a peachy combination

sunnyvalley Sunny Valley International has an exclusive, longstanding sales and marketing relationship with Dixie Belle Peaches to market its peach crop.

Tom Beaver, director of sales for Sunny Valley, based in Glassboro, NJ, said the company is taking a “business as usual” approach this spring, even will all of the uncertainty in the world right now.

“This includes our marketing work on behalf of Dixie Belle,” he said. “We realize that our role is to support our customers however we can. With this in mind, we’re working with each of our customers individually to identify volumes, pack sizes and other collaborative marketing strategies to ensure their success in marketing South Carolina peaches throughout the spring and summer.”

He noted Dixie Belle, based in Ridge Spring, SC , has been a mainstay in the South Carolina peach industry for four generations, and continues to be among the premier stone fruit growers in the country.

“Over the past several years, Dixie Belle has made significant infrastructure investments in its sorting and scanning equipment, cold storage and hydrocooling facilities,” Beaver said. “This is in addition to the establishment of new orchards featuring top-performing varieties. The company is always innovating to stay ahead of customer and consumer expectations.”

That’s why this marketing partnership is such a natural fit for Sunny Valley, as the company has more than 30 years of experience in the stone fruit business.

“Working with Dixie Belle allows us to separate ourselves from every other shipper of eastern peaches,” Beaver said. “We can create seamless programs with our customers starting with the exceptional fruit that Dixie Belle is known for before adding New Jersey stone fruit into the mix. There are no supply chain gaps and we have ample fruit to serve customers from Maine to Florida and all points in between from now until mid-September, whatever their needs are.” 

Matt Forrest, a fourth-generation peach grower and president of Dixie Belle Peaches, noted   South Carolina is an absolutely imperative location for growing the premium peach.

“This area provides the necessary humidity soil and elevation to make a crop on a consistent annual basis,” he said. “The orchards and the land itself are paramount to our business. We believe ‘the fresher the better’ and that’s why we are committed to delivering the freshest peach possible. In most cases our peaches are packed and shipped within 48 hours of harvest.”

Looking at the current peach crop, Forrest said May through the mid-June peaches are somewhat short.

“After mid-June, we have a bountiful crop,” he said. “We know what supply we have but we are anxious of the demand the marketplace because of the cloud of COVID-19 hanging over the market. The supply is set but the demand is very unstable. All we want to do during this hectic time is provide people with fresh fruits to feed their families and fill their bellies.”

For May and June, he expects about 50 percent of the crop compared to last year but after that, there will be large quantities of quality peaches unlike last year’s cold-damaged fruit.

“We try to always have a plan set in place. We try to prepare for the future as much as possible and also try to be flexible,” Forrest said. “We have also tried to generate more local business and spread the word our crops. We have people traveling from across the state to visit our strawberry stand and packing shed. They want to purchase the freshest fruits possible and we are more than happy to provide.”

Beaver noted that every challenge is an opportunity, and this year is no exception.

“This is a unique year and we’ve been working nonstop to ensure that we are prepared to meet the needs of all of our customers,” he said. “This means offering every available pack size, focusing on box and bag designs that ‘pop’ at point-of-sale and identifying opportunities for collaborative marketing with our retail partners.”

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