This information is contributed by Mike Mauti, managing partner of consulting firm Execulytics. The company’s signature product is the Produce Almanac, which provides seasonality and cost information on all the major fresh produce commodities. You can reach Mike at [email protected]
As you're getting plans in place now for how best to take advantage of cherries this summer, take a look at the historic pricing and sizing information reported by USDA to get a feel for what's ahead.
Cherries begin in May out of California on sizes 9½ - 12 row. In 2019, 11 row and larger remained expensive with significant premiums on large fruit. FOB costs ranged between $50 - $65 for 16-pound cartons. Smaller cherries were considerably lower. Washington state begins in June. 2019 red cherry costs ranged between $30-$50 FOB for 11 row and larger, packed in 18-pound cartons. Rainier cherries traded at a $15-$20 premium for three fewer pounds. This marks the beginning of peak cherry season.
Peak season for cherries out of Washington. FOB costs range from the high $20’s to low $40’s on a run of sizes like Q2, with each larger size commanding a $3-$5 premium. As the season progresses until the end of August, smaller fruit is less plentiful, driving average costs higher despite each size remaining fairly stable. Availability and premium costing on the rainier variety is also like Q2.
(Data from USDA, compiled by Mike Mauti; graphics by Alison Fulton)
Cherries are the ultimate traffic driver, capable of being the top single-week sales item of the year. The best time to push cherry sales is during the summer months when product is in peak Washington production. All sizes offer attractive opportunities to sell at the lowest price points of the year with some very low-cost opportunities on small fruit (11 and 11½ row). Secondary opportunities exist in December. Although FOB costs are higher, the time of year is perfect for selling premium fruit at slightly higher price points.