It looks like the final overall volume will come in at just short of 27M 20# equivalent boxes. In New England, everything that I saw suggests that the retailer gave us exceptional support. Throughout the month of July, virtually every retail store I visited had large displays either at the entrance to the store, or at least at the entrance to the produce department. Some had displays in both areas. I think that the display contests that we ran had a significant impact on the size and number of displays. Since many cherry purchases are impulse, I believe that large, well managed displays are the best way to maximize sales. These displays did just that. Many of the retailers reported that their sales exceed YOY history in both volume and dollars, which is the kind of thing that will encourage them to do it again next year.
In my opinion, there are several advantages to running the display contests. It not only encourages the retailer to build the displays, it also encourages them to buy more in order to fill the displays and generates lots of excitement in the produce department. Since we can target the activity to specific weeks where we need the most support, I believe that we should look at the idea of contests as a regular part of the program in years with significant volume.
The quality as we close the season has been good. The fruit has been large and the flavor has been good. Earlier in the season, some of the fruit was not as fancy, in fact, some was marginal at best. In late June and early July, it was not unusual to find 11 r and occasionally even fruit that looked even smaller than that at retail. Some of this fruit had wilted or brown stems suggesting that the demand for this fruit was not as strong as it was for the larger, fresher looking fruit. Some of this more marginal fruit probably impacted at least some of the repeat sales at a time when we needed it most.