If any company has a secret weapon in its cherry promotion arsenal, it is probably Stemilt Growers LLC in Wenatchee, WA.
Director of Marketing Roger Pepperl said Kyle Mathison, vice president of research and development, has dedicated himself to applying the science needed to produce the region’s finest cherries. “Kyle is my hero,” Pepperl said.
Marketing campaigns in 2013 will focus on the technical expertise Stemilt brings to the table and marry Mathison’s in-depth knowledge of horticultural practices and the ways in which those practices create exceptional cherries. “Consumers will know there’s a guy named Kyle,” Pepperl noted.
The company will roll out its new random-weight pouch bag, which will feature 101/2-row and larger cherries, this season. After the Fourth of July holiday, the bag will include a special ribbon on the end panel featuring “Kyle’s Pick.” According to Pepperl, specific cherry varieties will be featured in the program. Placement of high-end graphics on the bag will not interfere with the consumer’s ability to see cherries inside. “It will become part of the brand,” Pepperl stated.
The bag will also sport a special QR code giving consumers a chance to connect with Mathison and learn more about his expertise as a cherry grower.
“We always pack high-color cherries at Stemilt. On Aug. 10, ‘Kyle’s Pick’ is replaced by ‘A Half A Mile Closer to the Moon,’” Pepperl stated.
This program was introduced by Stemilt last year, and packaging and related information focuses on the natural attributes of cherries grown at high elevation.
The union of technical expertise and forward thinking is not new at Stemilt. Pepperl said the company’s founder, the late Tom Mathison, patented the first sizing machine used in the industry.
Turning to production, Pepperl said the southern growing districts experienced cold wind and some frost. “The trees were full of blooms,” he commented. “The bees didn’t get out and pollen got dry.”
Statewide, volume for the early cherry deal will be reduced, he said. “I would expect a low volume in the month of June. Early cherries will be more expensive then. Post Fourth of July, you’ll see a more typical pattern.”
A second production peak will occur in mid-July and volume will flow. “The trees are in petal fall in the high elevations. We will have a good August at Stemilt,” he stated.