The price of US cherries peaked at USD 5.4/lbs on the week of 27th April, up 49% year-on-year (y-o-y) in line with adverse weather conditions in top producing states, which damaged yield potential. Since then, prices declined slightly in line with seasonality as the new harvest commenced in May. Yet, the price remained 5.2% higher y-o-y at USD 4.64/lbs on the week of 25th May due to the estimated decline in production resulting from adverse weather.
Throughout April, a combination of snow and frosts damaged developing buds, leaving high proportions of the cherry crop unsuitable for harvest. Consequently, growers are expecting a decline in production for the upcoming season, which was due to be harvested throughout May-June. However, in some regions, unfavourable weather delayed the crop development, meaning the harvest has been delayed until mid-June, causing a shortage on the market and thus higher cherry prices. Prices are estimated to remain firm and above 2021 levels in line with supply tightness.
There is also high uncertainty surrounding the financial sustainability of the industry, with many growers reporting challenges in line with soaring input costs, including energy and labour. The cost of packaging has also risen y-o-y, and a combination of these costs has reduced profit margins, potentially discouraging growers from growing cherries in the next season. However, growers in North America are resilient to challenges, with many growers reportedly investing in new cherry varieties, which are more fertile and self-pollinating, that can withstand more severe weather conditions. This is likely to support the future of the industry, to ensure production continues.