Early June is the beginning of cherry harvest season, and Washington State growers are expecting a long and bountiful one. As long as there aren’t any major weather issues that can spoil the crops, Washington state is expected to sell up to 21 million boxes this year. And right now, prices per box are averaging around $70, much higher than normal.
The reliable economic model of supply and demand is in full force here. Supply is down, not in Washington State but with its main competitors in California, where the droughts have severely plagued the state’s cherry crops. Cherry picking season starts earlier in California, but due to their limited crops almost half of all US grocery stores haven’t had any cherries yet. So demand is high across the nation.
Demand is also high in Asia, particularly in China which has become the biggest export market for Washington cherries in the past 5 years. In 2012, it imported 2 million boxes of cherries from Washington, and this year its expected they will import even more.
Washington State is the #1 producer of cherries in the US, producing more than 70% of the nation’s total. 30% of Washington cherries ends up being exported, another example of the importance of international to our state.