We have raised the price of tart cherry juice concentrate for the first time in many years. We are going to $16.99/quart. This is a steep increase.
We had a large cherry crop in 2009 and much of the surplus was made into concentrate. The 2010 crop was very small but we still had enough concentrate to get us to June and the new crop. However, the 2011 crop picked out 20% less than expected. The large processors were not getting enough cherries for their commitments to their large contracted accounts so they sent fewer cherries to be made into concentrate.
Cherry juice concentrate has been growing at a fast pace and now the market was being shorted. We were unable to get a commitment for the amount of concentrate we need for the coming year from the processor who had done 100% of our juice for the last 2 years. We responded by sending all of the tart cherries that we grow to be concentrated. We also put out the word that we needed cherries for concentrate to the other growers. We were able to get 10 growers in our area to send us fruit for concentrate. However, in order to influence growers to send us their fruit we had to match or surpass the grower price that they were being offered from the big processors, and because the crop was short the prices were up 50% to 100% over the prices offered for the last several years. No one has ever paid prices this high for juice cherries but we think we were able to get enough fruit to last until next July when we start all over again. I hope you will bear with us and that we have a big cherry crop next year.