Cherry Opportunities in Asia Pt 2

Cherry Opportunities in Asia Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. As Asian markets begin the slow return to normal, the timing could be fortuitus for Northwest Cherry Growers who expect harvest to begin at the end of the month.

NCG President BJ Thurlby says while exports are certainly a gray area in these times, cherry growers haven’t been hurt like some food groups …

THURLBY … “Now my heart completely goes out to my potato-growing friends over here in Eastern Washington and we hope that these markets clean themselves up and we get restaurants open and food service becomes as important as it always has been to our country. But, fresh cherries, which is what we work in, don’t’ really have a strong, we call it, piece of where we’re selling our fruit.”

In that regard, Thurlby says we’re just different …

THURLBY … “Because cherries are eaten, for the most part, as snacks out of hand. We don’t have a huge food service component in our need for sales where potato guys absolutely do. And, Washington state leads the world in French fry production and there’s a reason for it. It’s because we do a good job of it. But, we’re just going to hope to sell people fresh, healthy Northwest cherries here in the states and obviously offshore as well.”

And the plunging cost of fuels, Thurlby says might not be a bad thing for air shipments …

THURLBY … “So, it’s been more affordable here the last week or so and we think that’s also a way we can maybe deliver some fruit at cost-effective prices across the ocean.”

So as harvest draws near, Thurlby says they’re in contact with air freight lines …

THURLBY … “Calling those guys and saying, is the plane still there? Hold that plane! We have fruit!”

Word is, Thurlby says there should be ample room for cherries. He thinks shipping 6-million boxes to Asia this year is realistic. The five-year average has been 7-to-8-million.

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