Cherry season is upon us and in full swing in California as Washington prepares to start harvesting. With great weather and increased demand in China, analysts expect a strong export season. Though airfreight issues are expected to complicate the transportation of the cherries, a smaller crop of very high-quality fruit should keep prices in a good place.
There will not be much direct competition between California and Washington cherries as their seasons barely overlap during the spring and summer. Some pickers in Washington might start harvesting around the twenty-eighth of May, but that won’t make any discernable impact on the California supply because the peak season won’t happen until around the 15th of June. The demand for the sweet fruit has climbed over the last two years in Asia and there’s hardly been enough crop to satisfy everyone looking to add cherries to their diet.
While there was a late frost in Washington that damaged approximately twenty-five percent of the crop, a beautiful spring with plenty of rain has lead to larger individual fruit size and sweeter taste. Experts estimate that there will still be between 18-20 million fifteen pound boxes of cherries picked during the Washington season.
The California season lasts until around June 7th, which is the start of the Washington season. California alone is expected to ship approximately 56,000 cartons of cherries to China before the season officially ends, and so far they’ve shipped 33,000. Some strong storms late in the season may have caused damage to the crop, but it’s expected to be far less severe than last year’s 80% crop loss. The late weather issues can make or break the cherry season.
Air freight capacity is at a premium and with quarantine and isolation protocols on the west coast remaining strict, the access to labor has been a concern; however, more stringent safety protocols and adequate personal protective equipment have enabled growers to bring most of last years pickers back to work.
CFI Perishables has been an early pioneer in exporting cherries to China and we’re continuing that tradition this year by utilizing our broad network of strategic partnerships to secure the capacity needed to ensure the crop arrives in excellent condition. If you’re interested in exporting your perishable goods overseas by air or by ocean, CFI has solutions to help you.