Red cherries on a stone surface
Source: Unsplash

Cherries May Be in Season, but They’re Still Hard To Come By

Ruchi Gupta - Author
By

Jun. 28 2022, Published 10:57 a.m. ET

If you’re a cherry fan but haven’t spotted the fruit at your local store yet, you might be wondering whether there's a cherry shortage. Many consumer products are in short supply now because of a variety of factors, including the war in Ukraine.

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Cherries, which have many nutritional and health benefits, are usually only available for a short season. When cherries hit the shelves, people rush to fill their baskets with the fruit.

Where do cherries in the U.S. come from?

The cherry market is massive in the U.S. The fruit you find at local stores may be domestic (mostly from Washington, Oregon, California, and Michigan) or imported. Chile is a major source of the cherries sold in the U.S.

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Source: Unsplash

Is there a cherry shortage?

U.S. cherry production has dropped in recent years. Northwestern U.S. cherry farms are expected to harvest 15 million 20-pound boxes of the fruit in 2022, marking a sharp drop from the 20 million boxes the farms produced in 2021. If the 2022 estimate is accurate, the country will have its smallest cherry harvest in about a decade.

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What's causing the cherry shortage?

Poor weather is a major reason for the shrinking cherry harvest. In 2021, extreme heat impacted yields at cherry farms. Northwestern U.S. farms were expected to harvest 24 million boxes of cherries, but fell short with just 20 million. This year, cold weather has been the problem for cherry farms, impacting pollination and the fruit's development.

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Delays in harvesting due to unexpected rains have also impacted cherry farms' yield. Additionally, rain damages cherries, further limiting their supply.

In Chile, labor challenges have disrupted the supply of sweet cherries. Farms and processing facilities have been hit by labor shortages, slowing down harvests and shipments. There's also been a shortage of cardboard packaging.

What does the cherry shortage mean for consumers?

A shortage of cherries has driven up prices, further squeezing shoppers’ already inflation-pressured wallets. Consumers have been grappling with shortages of several products. The war in Ukraine has caused fuel prices to soar, disrupting the normal global supply chain and making it difficult for Ukraine to export its farm produce.

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