As if cherry prices weren’t high enough, Canada-based company Sutherland Produce has introduced the “world’s most expensive” cherry gift box, including a 1oz .9999 solid gold cherry.
“This will be our first season offering the gold cherry gift box. Knowing the Chinese regularly offer fruit as gifts and give extravagant gifts to close family, friends and employees, we thought let’s create the ultimate cherry gift box,” Sutherland director of sales Rick Chong tells Fresh Fruit Portal.
He says the gold cherries will be completed this week, to be offered with the company’s Canadian cherries.
“They will have a numbered certificate of authenticity. Interest has been strong throughout Asia,” he says.
Back to actual cherries not made out of gold, Chong says the group offers several brands in China with tiered pricing, including premium labels for the high-end market and normal brands for supermarkets.
“All are meeting or surpassing China’s high expectations. Developing brand loyalty is a priority for us,” he says.
“We uniquely offer fruit from many countries globally. This helps us continue gaining market share and allows our clients one-stop headache free shopping.
“We continue to improve cherry quality each year by being on the ground for our sea arrivals. This allows us to see how the fruit arrives at destination, and go back to the shed and fix any arrival issues we encounter.”
He adds online sales in China continue to grow at a “phenomenal rate”.
“We have increased our array of packaging to target this segment growth area. Moving to 1kg & 2.5kg gift boxes is one of our strategies this year,” he says.
“Developing logistics hubs in secondary-tier cities in China will allow us to drop ship efficiently. Where they will be delivered by our clients direct to consumers.”
When asked about the upcoming seasons across the major Northern Hemisphere growing regions, he says Washington State and Canadian crops are shaping up for harvests a few days later than last year.
“This is the first time since 2014 that we are seeing normal weather patterns. Weather has been very good and we are anticipating good volumes for both growing regions,” he says.
“Export demand is showing strong interest, with China and Southeast Asia being our top markets.
“We are projecting export packing to begin June 16 in Washington and June 27 in Canada. With the latter Autumn Moon Festival this year of Oct. 4, the timing of the Canadian deal is ideal for good arrivals by sea.”
He adds Spain has just started its volumes for export markets outside the EU, and its late season would definitely impact North American exports to the EU this season.
“Continued cool weather had slowed maturity for the last couple of weeks,” he says.
“Export varieties include Chelan, Sequoia, Red Pacific, Frisco and Rocket. Quality looks excellent, with strong demand from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, India and the Middle East.”
Regarding the world’s largest cherry grower Turkey, the country is a “work in progress” for Sutherland Produce which seeks to lift cultivation and post-harvest standards to meet the requirements of international markets.
“They eventually are going to enter our markets in a big way. Exporting poor quality fruit or varieties will impact returns for every grower in Washington, Canada and Spain,” he says.
“Working with growers in Turkey on orchard development, spray techniques, picking fruit, packing and the cold chain will strengthen prices and keep export markets stabilized. Most importantly, this is one of our specialties.”
He adds while Turkey’s production of the Kordia and Regina varieties has been encouraging, the majority of the crop is of the cultivar “0900 Ziraat” – known as “Napoleon” in the West, which is too soft for Asian markets.
On a global scale he adds maximum residue limits (MRLS) are affecting growers, and Sutherland continues to find new safe methods to meet the criteria.
“This is a good thing. We implement new spray programs that continue to ensure fruit is healthier than ever to consume,” he says.
The upgrading of technologies to meet the higher expectations of clients is rapidly being implemented by more growers, investing millions annually to maintain and increase market share.”