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Instacart has entered into partnerships with Wegmans Food Markets and Giant Food Stores LLC. The new service is currently available at select Northern Virginia and Maryland Wegmans stores as well as Giant shoppers in the Philadelphia area.

“We know our customers are busy, and that any found time in their week can make a difference. That’s where we can help — by giving them the option to have Wegmans delivered fresh to their door,” Heather Pawlowski, vice president of e-commerce for Wegmans, said in a press release. “By partnering with an industry leader like Instacart, we’re able to provide our customers with a seamless shopping experience with the quality and service they’ve come to expect from Wegmans, without leaving their house.”

“Partnering with the best retailers nationwide is essential to the success of Instacart,” Apoorva Mehta, chief executive officer of Instacart, said in the release. “Wegmans is a brand with a loyal fan base. This partnership is a milestone for Instacart, allowing us to bring the products Wegmans customers love straight to their doorstep.”

“This partnership with Instacart gives our customers in the greater Philadelphia area another convenient delivery option,” Tom Lenkevich, president of Giant, said in a press release. “From quality to convenience, our job is to provide the best possible experience for our shoppers, and now that includes providing them with a same-day delivery solution.”

“Instacart has always been about bringing customers’ favorite stores, groceries and essentials directly to their doorsteps,” Nilam Ganenthiran, Instacart’s chief business officer, said in the release. “Giant is loved by its customers, and we believe Philadelphia residents will enjoy the added convenience, not to mention having one less errand to run.”

 

After a late bloom and cool spring temperatures, the 2017 Northwest cherry crop kept retailers across the United States anxiously awaiting the main harvest to get under way. Strong export pricing created additional market shortages as many of the early cherries were pulled into international markets, limiting supplies and keeping upward pressure on pricing. But beginning this week, big volumes are rolling to retailers across North America.CherryDisplay 2 6725CMI expects its Rainier cherry volume to be up close to 50 percent this year.

George Harter, vice president of marketing for CMI Orchards, said the company is gearing up for the biggest week of the season on Bing cherries with peak volume in Rainier and Sweethearts hitting after the July 4 holiday.

“Compared to the last couple of years which were unseasonably early, it has felt like forever to get this season rolling,” said Harter. “That is behind us now and the next four weeks will bring peak supplies on both red and Rainier cherries.”

Harter said that despite the later harvest, initial sales have been excellent.

“If you look at the first 13 days of the Northwest cherry season compared to the first 13 shipping days last year, the industry is up 41 percent in total carton shipments,” said Harter. “That’s a strong indication that the cherry quality we’re seeing is outstanding.”

Harter said that CMI Orchards is predicting a record harvest in both red cherries and Rainier cherries. “Our horticultural staff is telling us that 2017 is going to be an epic crop. We’re not only anticipating a big crop of red cherries, but we’re projecting a record harvest of Rainiers rebounding from last year’s small crop.

“Any retailer who has been waiting for that one big year to hammer Rainiers, now is the time,” said Harter. “At CMI we expect our Rainier cherry volume to be up close to 50 percent.”

Harter said the harvest of red cherries is solidly under way, with Rainier harvest expected to peak over the weeks of July 1-15.

“We’re counting on our partner retailers to really drive sales during the entire month of July,” said Harter. “We believe that 60 percent of our total cherry crop will be harvested after the July 4 holiday. That bodes well for strong promotions for the entire month of July.”

Harter said they are pleased with cherry sizing. “Fruit packed so far has been peaking on 10-10.5 row size, which is bigger than the initial pre-harvest estimates. Overall, fruit size will be down slightly from last year when a light crop on the trees yielded above average sizing. We’ll still have plenty of the 10.5 row and larger cherries that consumers prefer.”

 

Hopes were high for the 2016 domestic garlic crop as it followed a 2015 crop that saw numerous El Niño-related weather events, from floods to droughts to tornados, which wreaked havoc on many garlic fields.

Unfortunately, the 2016 crop was also down by 15-20 percent of normal, also due to inclement weather condition. Domestic garlic producers tend to say that the “norm” for a garlic crop is being redefined from year to year.

Hymel-LouisLouis Hymel“Spice World’s 2016 crop was down by 15 to 20 percent,” said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing for the Orlando, FL-based grower and shipper of garlic and other specialty items. “As of early June, we were finishing this year’s crop harvest, which is quite different. In fact, we are projecting an approximate 20 percent increase.”

Bill Christopher, owner of Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, CA, concurred, telling The Produce News that the company’s crop is also up this year. “Garlic crops over the past few years cannot be defined as normal,” he said. “This year we are a little above average. We had a cold winter, and garlic plants like the cold.”

Christopher added that the quality of the California crop is very good this year, saying, “The bulbs aren’t huge, but they are nice size.”

He explained that the market has changed somewhat in recent years. Many retailers are selling bulk bulbs, and they tend to like smaller sizes. “We receive a mix of size demands, and some do like larger bulbs,” he noted. “We try to fill every request.”

Christopher Ranch began harvesting in early June. The harvest will continue until mid-September.KEN--BILL-CHRISTOPHERKen and Bill Christopher of Christopher Ranch.

Christopher pointed out that most customers prefer the traditional white garlic, which the company is known to produce. “Some customers want the freshest possible garlic, so they’ll take the purple garlic when it’s fresh from Mexico. But California produces garlic with the highest Brix level and the strongest and best flavor,” he stressed.

Hymel acknowledged that the 2016 crop year had some issues with decreased pack-outs. “However, this year with the 2017 harvest in full swing, we have not had any issues,” he said in early June. “But we don’t make claims until everything is in storage and protected from Mother Nature. By all accounts, it looks to be a good crop in quality and quantity, and it is definitely an increased crop over last year.

“Harvesting is going full speed at this time,” Hymel continued. “And we expect everything to stay on track.”

Increased domestic crop of good quality garlic or not, how the market holds up in the coming year has a lot to do with what other countries — especially China — export to the U.S.

As of February 2017, according to mapsofworld.com, China continued to be, by far, the largest producer of garlic in the world, with 20,058,388 tons. India is the second-largest producer, but with only 1,252,000 tons produced in the country. The United States ranks No. 10, with 175,450 tons.

“It is difficult to get accurate information out of China,” said Christopher. “From some, we’ve heard that its crop is smaller. But from others we’ve heard the contrary, and that it’s up as much as 20 percent. We never know what’s actually going on until we’re into July and August and Chinese garlic is arriving in the U.S.”

Until then, Christopher expects prices to remain firm. But what occurs once China starts shipping to the United States may change the market climate.

“There are many factors that affect U.S. market prices,” Hymel pointed out. “However, prices in the past year reached record highs. We therefore expect them to come down in time.

“The California crop is looking good so far with increased yields and quantities, especially since Spice World increased its planted acres,” he continued. “Garlic from Spain will come in at lower prices, and there are still the unknown quantities that will come in from China.”

Continuing its long-held tradition of carrying locally grown products, ShopRite has expanded its Locally Grown program, offering a rich variety of products throughout the supermarket — from fresh fruits and vegetables to farm-raised beef, seafood, flowers, baked goods, honey, craft beer and roasted coffees.ShopRite LocallyGrown employeeShopRite associate Chun Hung of Cherry Hill, NJ.

“ShopRite has been partnering with local farmers since our inception almost 70 years ago,” Derrick Jenkins, vice president of the produce and floral division at ShopRite, said in a press release. “But more than ever, we are meeting increased customer demand for locally sourced products by working hand-in-hand with local entrepreneurs, family farms and businesses to procure and sell products that have been locally grown.”

ShopRite recently joined state officials in announcing the debut of the “Grown in Monmouth” label. Its stores in New Jersey’s Monmouth and Ocean counties will feature flowers and plants branded with the new label and sourced from local farms.

Many seasonal and unique products can also be found on a store-by-store basis. These “hyperlocal” products are produced by local independent businesses and growers, including greens that have been grown on local hydroponic or indoor “vertical” farms.

“ShopRite is proud to work with local family farms and businesses because local is not only how we source our food, it’s who we are,” Jenkins said in the release. “We look forward to offering shoppers an ever-increasing assortment of locally made products and goods throughout the year.”

 

As the first Orchard View cherries are being picked in The Dalles, OR, exclusive marketer Oppy is urging consumers to "Pick Your Moments” to enjoy these celebrated, superior cherries through summer.OrchardViewCherries RedBag HR

“We launched the Pick Your Moments brand positioning last year and were excited how well it resonated with our staff, customers and consumers, too,” Brenda Thomas, Orchard View’s president, said in a press release. “As with any season, many great moments have taken place in the orchard over the recent months as the cherries matured and our harvest time arrived.

“Now, the cherries we’ve grown can be part of special moments in our consumers’ lives, on their picnics and patios, hikes, road trips and so much more,” she said. “Summer is filled with great moments, and our cherries are grown to be part of them.”

Thomas said retailers can pick their moments as well, with memorable promotional campaigns orchestrated with the help of Oppy’s business development team. “We believe that we’ve grown the sweetest, best-tasting cherries available at any moment of the season, and our customers can promote them knowing they’ll consistently deliver the enjoyment summer cherries are all about.”

High-graphic packaging and signage featuring the Pick Your Moments message will encourage shoppers to enjoy Orchard View cherries while creating memories of good times shared.

With harvest beginning about two weeks later than last year, Orchard View and Oppy anticipate strong cherry supplies for July. Both Orchard View and the Northwest cherry industry as a whole are anticipating an uptick in volume.

“There are many variables involved in growing and selling cherries,” David Nelley, Oppy’s vice president of categories, said in the release. “Perhaps unique in the industry, Orchard View either owns or directly manages the cherries they pick, pack and ship, giving them a particular advantage when it comes to quality.”

Another proven asset is the Unitec optical sorting line Orchard View installed in 2016, equipped to separate cherries by color and size while culling out quality concerns.

“The sorter’s 48-lane capacity efficiently delivers great consistency within the pack,” Nelley said. “Everything that’s picked is packed the next day. There’s no storing bins of picked cherries and this is a real difference. Orchard View already enjoys a reputation for sweet, juicy, strong cherries. Now they can handle capacity, and the optical grading makes the fruit even more eye-catching at retail.”

Orchard View grows carefully selected varieties, including Kordia, Skeena, Regina and Santina, in microclimates east of Hood River, where conditions are dry and temperatures moderated by the Columbia River.

Oppy, with staff located in The Dalles for the Orchard View season, just wrapped up its inaugural campaign with the internationally sought-after Brookside California cherry label. The marketer plans to continue bringing only the best-quality cherries to market with Orchard View fruit available now through mid-to-late August.