Cherry Industry Administrative Board sets tart cherry crop restriction at 31%
The Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB), which oversees the national federal marketing order for red tart cherries, has established a restriction percentage of 31 percent on the crop that will be harvested over the next month or so.
The board met June 18, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its official estimate of the crop size, and worked through its Optimum Supply Formula to develop the percentage of cherries that processors can market freely and the percentage that is restricted to certain markets or must be kept from the market. The industry also maintains an inventory of processed product to offset annual production variability.
Last year, with a huge production of 355 million pounds, half of the crop was restricted and some went unharvested. The harvested crop last year was 286.3 million pounds. This year’s USDA crop estimate is 195.3 million pounds.
In a press release, Perry Hedin, the board’s executive director, explained that the Optimum Supply Formula set forth in the order set the restricted quantity at 40 percent. This figure was then adjusted by the Market Growth Factor, which requires that 10 percent of expected demand be used to build new markets for tart cherries, so that reduced the effective restriction to 31 percent.
The market for “free” cherries is the traditional market for canned and frozen tart cherries for pie fillings and similar products. “New” markets include those for juice and dried fruit and export markets.
The June restriction is “preliminary” and the final figure will be set September 10, after the total crop size is known.
The difference between this season and last season’s production figures underscores the variability of the national tart cherry crop, Hedin said. The CIAB was created, in part, to assist the industry in dealing with this variability by providing for a pool of tart cherry products to be carried from one year to the next.