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Better technology leads to better cherry packing – Produce Blue Book

Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing for Sage Fruit Co., Yakima, WA, BB #:163180 believes technology has improved the industry and its ability to package and supply cherries.

“With regard to packing, the industry has made the transition to optical sorting lines on cherries,” he said. “This allows us to better assess fruit and put only the highest quality into packaging for consumers.”

And when it comes to packaging, this season, many grower-shippers are looking at ways to use less plastic, as consumers have let it be known they prefer less waste.

Mike Preacher, director of marketing and customer relations for Domex Superfresh Growers, LLC, Yakima, WA, BB #:113721 said it depends on the retailer whether cherries arrive in bags or clamshells, but many are expressing a desire to decrease plastic use, and other grower-shippers note the same trend.

For Brianna Shales, communications manager, for Stemilt Growers, LLC, Wenatchee, WA, BB #:113654 the company is always looking to reduce waste, which coincides nicely with requests from its retail customers. “We’ll increase the top-seal package rather than the clamshell—it really allows our brand to stand out and you reduce half the plastic compared to a clamshell.”

Mac Riggan, marketing director for Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, WA, BB #:342363 said Chelan Fresh, too, plans to pack its cherries in many more top-seal packs as opposed to clamshells. But he says the company hopes to see continued demand for smaller packs.

“Most people snack on cherries at home,” he says, noting the importance of providing “to go” options. “We have these smaller packs, like Cup of Cherries, where you get incremental sales. Consumers like big cherries—that’s no secret—but they want more convenient packs.”

Sinks sees another reason to focus on packaging: it allows cherries to stand out at retail. “As far as the packaging itself goes, we’re seeing increased demand for high-graphic pouch bags and have made the switch accordingly. Like all produce, we will continue to see the development of consumer-friendly packaging when it comes to cherries.”

Scott Brown, production manager for Morada Produce Company, Linden, CA, BB #:170736 said he is surprised by how many customers still request cherries in bulk. “We felt the integration of the pouch bag would be more widespread,” he said, noting the same about clamshells.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full version.

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