Here we are in the largest cherry growing region in the world where there are nearly 2 million cherry trees spread across the lands of the Cherry Republic. Each year, the cherries are harvested and pitted and flash frozen and then hundreds of millions of pounds are stored in freezers the size of football fields. And then us chefs and bakers and jam makers pull these fresh frozen cherries from the freezers and make them into dried cherries, pies and a hundred of other cherry items. But as I said, Roni Hazelton, our Warehouse Supervisor, called for more cherries and the freezer guards told her, “NO!”
They won’t sell any cherries until they know exactly what the 2012 crop will be. No expert has ventured to predict, but I am hearing from good sources that we will be lucky if the cherry crop is 20% of what a normal crop will be. The problem was two weeks of 70 and 80 degree weather in the middle of March. And the cherries began to bud and bloom and then we had hard frost after hard frost in April! At first, everyone up here was watching the weather with fingers crossed or hands in prayer. But then there were so many frozen nights-- the orchards became budding blossoming graveyards. Finally, about everyone tossed their hands up in disgust-- completely exhausted from this whipping by Mother Nature.
But what is Cherry Republic going to do? We are an exclusive cherry company. We just can’t switch to blueberries. So, Roni and my COO, Todd Ciolek and I started calling for cherries all over the world. And within a day, we ordered a large quantity of Latowka Cherries from the Lublin region in Poland. The Latowka is the tart cherry that Europe uses in their products and it is very close to our own Montmorency Red Tart Cherry. “Niech żyje Polska!- long live Poland!” We can now make the cherry products we need for summer. We can keep our stores open and our customers happy. And we can sleep at night. Oh, did I tell you that both Todd and Roni are Polish
And, of course, when the freezers open back up, we are going to buy every cherry we can find locally and mix these Polish cherries with them! And for fun, we will be flying the Polish flag all summer.
There is a second proactive measure that we will be taking this year. We have signed a temporary truce with Cranberries for one year only. And we will be creating several new cranberry products. Our century old battle with cranberries will never be over. In 2013, we will be back knocking them silly in the marketplace.
In conclusion, this 2012 natural disaster will affect everyone in the cherry industry, including you (I bet some of you didn't realize that by eating our products you were a key member in this important agricultural industry)! So please join us in what we are calling Operation Temporary Necessity! Please help us stretch the 2012 cherry crop out until the 2013 crop becomes available by giving these tasty Latowka cherries a try and by also allowing yourself a short term truce with cranberries.
Acts of nature will continue to challenge mankind in every way imaginable and when they do, we all watch to see how those affected individuals react to these disasters. "What is their character," we ask? And to some measure, people will be watching all of us in the cherry industry to see how we deal with this. I look forward to showing them, with you, the power of our creative resourcefulness, the strength of our will to overcome, and finally, the good humor we will carry through this year
It is going to be an interesting 2012, and I appreciate sharing this unique moment in time with you. Natural disasters can tend to bring people together. It is my hope that the Cherry Republic staff and I will get even closer to you, our customer.
Our goal is to make up for the shortage of cherries with a surplus of good humor and positive energy.
- Average annual Red Tart Cherry Crop-- 259 million pounds
- Tart Cherries in reserve to cover shortages in 2012-- 15 million pounds. 2012 cherry crop-- 90 million pounds.
CHERRY REPUBLIC’S OPERATION TEMPORARY NECESSITY
- Keep expounding on the joy of cherries throughout 2012
- Maintain selling our biggest cherry sellers throughout the year
- Keep our prices as close to 2011 pricing, even if it hurts a little. It’s just one year.
- Hold off producing the smaller niche items and use those cherries for the big sellers
- Mix our local cherries with Polish cherries. “Niech żyje Polska!”
- Mix our local cherries with Wisconsin cranberries. A one year truce.
- Show the world the cherry industry’s fun loving character as we deal with this natural disaster.