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Chelan Fresh looks to social media, digital to promote cherries

cherries33 Working with its retail partners on 2020 cherry promotions, Chelan Fresh is using more social media and other digital outlets to reach consumers, according to Mac Riggan, marketing director for the Chelan, WA-based company.

Riggan said in early-May much of what would normally be accomplished through in-store demos will be handled online as a result of COVID-19’s impact on consumer buying.

“More people are ordering online,” he noted. “California is blazing the digital trail for cherry promotions, and we’re using both social media platforms and digital ads with our retailers, working with them to incentivize consumers. We might also use other influencers such as podcasts.”

While the promos were ramping up, the Northwest crop had seen some reduction in volume in early-production regions due to harsh winter conditions. “Every growing region got hit with weather this year,” Riggan said. The Northwest’s total volume could be closer to 18 million boxes, down from last year.

On the company’s website, Riggan said “we plant both our conventional and organic cherries at various elevations from the Yakima Valley to the Canadian border to expand the season. We have early varieties that will start harvesting the first part of June and the perfect late varieties planted at elevation to take us through August.”

Also in April, the bees were reported to be active in the orchards in the various growing regions of Washington state, with the website saying, “These diligent workers pollinate the blossoms allowing us to bring you the sensational cherries you have come to expect from Chelan Fresh.”

In May Riggan said the sweet red Chelan variety would be first out of the gate on June 10. “Our Rainiers will start around June 20,” he said. The exclusive Orondo Ruby will also start shipping in that same time frame, and a newer, later variety, the Cowiche, will start around July 4.

Riggan said Chelan Fresh’s cherry acreage, under the stewardship of third- and fourth-generation family farmers “who are passionate about the fruit, the land and the legacy they leave behind,” remains fairly stable.

“We anticipate our quality will be very good, and the size of the fruit should be up,” he said, adding that packaging options run the gamut, with the two- and three-pound top seal clamshell available for dark sweets.

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