Chelan Fresh Marketing's new snack package Cup o'Cherries. (Geraldine Warner/Good Fruit Grower)

Chelan Fresh Marketing’s new snack package Cup o’Cherries. (Geraldine Warner/Good Fruit Grower)

Chelan Fresh Marketing has introduced a new consumer pack of cherries designed for snacking on the go.

The package, called Cup o’ Cherries, resembles a lidded coffee cup. The lid, however, has a cherry-sized hole, allowing the consumer to tip a cherry into the mouth, and a nifty compartment with a smaller hole in which to spit the pits. The patented package is the brainchild of Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing at Chelan Fresh.

Riggan said when he first came up with the idea four years ago, he thought it might be a hit in up-scale markets, but it turns out that convenience has been the big selling point.

Families are buying them for their children, and concession operators at baseball stadiums like Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field have expressed interest.

Chelan Fresh began selling the cups last season. It will probably do around 10,000 this year and more in the future. The cost of the package should decline with increasing volume. Both the cup and lid are patented.

It’s become more feasible to produce the packs since Chelan Fruit Cooperative built a new packing line that can sort out the stemless cherries needed for the cups. In every cherry lot there’s a small proportion that don’t have stems, Riggan said.

“They’re perfect for putting into this product and we have the technology to glean those cherries out.”

Riggan said the idea came to him as he was talking on the phone to a buyer from Burger King who wanted cups of sliced apples that looked like French fries.

“I don’t think we’re getting into the sliced apple business,” he told the buyer.

“I was thinking about apple slices in a cup and the idea of cherries in a cup just popped into my head,” he recalled.

Riggan said it was a fairly long process from concept to reality. One of the most challenging parts was designing and making the two-part lid with the compartment for pits.

“Everything we do here is to try to help the grower get the most for the fruit that the market will give him,” he said. “We realize that with bigger cherry crops we’re going to have to drive cherry sales with the convenience factor. With two-pound bags in the grocery store, you’re going to reach a limit on how much you can sell that way. It’s not about price. It’s about creating value.”