For Wenatchee, Washington-based Stemilt Growers, the upcoming Organic Produce Summit in Monterey, California on July 13-14, 2022 offers a few opportunities: the chance to promote its long-time organic program, Artisan Organics™, as well as meeting with retailers to set up both summer and fall programs. But there’s something else that Stemilt’s Brianna Shales enjoys about this show.
“They really do a good job of bringing in high-caliber speakers on topics related to the organic produce industry. The workshops are very effective--it strikes up a lot of conversations around organics and the future,” says Shales.
The show begins at a unique time for Stemilt’s organic fruit. “We’re just ahead of our new apple and pear crop but we’re in the midst of our organic cherry, peach and nectarine crop,” says Shales. “So we’ll feature the organic summertime fruit but also trying to build programs for the fall, even though that fruit hasn’t been harvested yet.”
Stemilt is just about to begin its organic apricot crop for the season. “That’s up significantly in volume over prior years thanks to a great crop set. We’re looking forward to robust promotions around organic apricots. Then, in mid to late July, we’ll start harvesting organic peaches and nectarines. These will carry all the way to mid to late-September,” says Shales, adding that what differentiates its program--that it is all organic.
While apricot volumes are up, peach and nectarine volumes are on par with last year. “It’s a good-sized crop and will definitely be ready for promotion in the August-September time frame,” adds Shales.
She also notes that harvest is generally later this year as a whole in the Northwest region of the U.S. “Cherries have been about two weeks late and then apricots, the later start isn’t as significant. A lot of the timing is dictated by when the fruit is in bloom and apricots are the first ones to bloom,” says Shales. “Peaches and nectarines should start just a little bit off of what we’d call normal.”
And to meet this crop, Stemilt anticipates strong demand for organic stone fruit. “Consumers are strapped for dollars right now with inflation so we have to make sure we deliver a really good quality eating experience so that they’re willing to pay that premium for organics,” says Shales. “Overall demand for organics has been very strong and we expect that to continue.”