Sunny Valley expects strong peach season

orchard33 Last year, Sunny Valley International celebrated its 25th year marketing New Jersey peaches on behalf of the Jersey Fruit Cooperative, Larchmont Farms and Gala Farms.

“Needless to say, we have plenty of history as New Jersey’s premier stone fruit supplier,” said Tom Beaver, director of sales and marketing for the Glassboro, NJ-based company. “We offer the full complement of stone fruit. Primarily, we ship yellow peaches, but we also have white peach and nectarine programs.”

In 2020, the company expected to ship upward of 500,000 cases of stone fruit from New Jersey, beginning around July 1, and running through around mid-September. 

“We are cautiously optimistic about this year’s New Jersey stone fruit deal,” Beaver said. “Like every shipper, we’ve been adjusting to our new reality, but there is no fruit that is more synonymous with summer than fresh eastern peaches and nectarines. We are confident that consumers will be making stone fruit a feature of their produce purchasing decisions this summer.”

With more than a quarter century of experience behind it, Sunny Valley knows the secret of success comes from a combination of quality, freshness and proximity to market.

“We ship more than 30 varieties of peaches and nectarines, each of which have been selected specifically based on New Jersey’s unique growing conditions and climate,” Beaver said. “Additionally, we are within a day’s ride of the New York, Philadelphia and New England markets. Our peaches are picked, packed, shipped and on store shelves within 24 to 48 hours. When consumers buy our stone fruit, they are truly picking the best.”

When dealing with the COVID-19 challenges, everything the company has done to this point has been centered on its retail and other customers.

“We know that we can create value for them by offering consistency of volume and delivery and accommodating any pack size and style, from traditional volume containers to grab-and-go backs and tray packs for club stores,” Beaver said. “The biggest challenge we face is competition with western peaches. In our eyes, there is no reason that any East Coast retailer should be prioritizing western stone fruit when we are in the marketplace.”

In 2020, Sunny Valley is boosting up its efforts to partner with retailers to ensure that peaches sell well, and people understand the value of an Eastern-grown peach.

“We believe there is tremendous opportunity for Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern retailers to promote New Jersey stone fruit as the local option throughout the summer,” Beaver said. “We are already underway with collaborative marketing initiatives with a number of retailers, and we are always interested in partnering on innovative promotions with our retail partners.”

That shouldn’t be too difficult with the strong crop expected this year. Early estimates of the peach crop are very favorable.

“We are expecting an excellent crop this year,” Beaver said. “Cold weather last month had a minor impact, but we will have promotable volumes throughout the deal and expect a solid crop of around a half-million cases.”

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