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Sunny Valley International transitioning to fall fruit program

By
Keith Loria

With a quarter century of experience working with New Jersey fruit, Sunny Valley International is looking forward to another robust fall season.

The fall is a transition period and the company will soon be shifting from its seasonal summer fruit program to the fall and winter items that are a staple of business from September through May.

“We will continue with yellow and white flesh peaches and nectarines out of New Jersey through mid-September,” said Tom Beaver, director of sales and marketing for the Glassboro, NJ-based company. “Additionally, by late September, we will start with our New Jersey fresh cranberry program. We will be able to support retailers with all of their cranberry needs throughout the fall, including the major Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday windows.”

Sunny Valley’s imported fruit program also ramps up in the fall.

“We are already underway with our Peruvian blueberry program, and will have good supplies of organic and conventional blueberries throughout the imported deal,” Beaver said. “For our imported berry program, much of the focus is on managing the timeline of fruit arrivals to plan ads and promotions. This is the work that we’re underway with now with our retail partners.”

The last few years have been replete with shipping and logistical challenges, especially for items shipped by ocean vessel from Central and South America, and that’s a challenge that Sunny Valley has been dealing with.

“There are some indications that the situation is starting to normalize somewhat, but this has become a major factor in the marketing of imported fruit in recent years,” Beaver said. “We’re hopeful that this year’s import program is more seamless. Timely arrivals and container discharges are critical to ensuring continuity for our retail programs.”

In 2022, the company’s summer fruit programs in South Carolina and New Jersey were, for the most part, successful. Volume was down due to pre-season weather events, but market demand and pricing remained strong throughout the summer.

“We are just getting started with our imported fruit programs now and positioning ourselves for good volume movement and hopefully fair pricing throughout the deal,” Beaver said.
Peruvian blueberry imports have grown significantly year-over-year in each of the last five years, and Sunny Valley expects that trend to continue in 2022-2023.

“The quality and condition of conventional and imported fruit coming out of Peru is typically excellent, and the berry category has emerged as an anchor in virtually every produce section, with consumers expecting to see berries in stores and on ad throughout the year,” Beaver said. “That’s why it’s so important to plan for windows where there will be heavy volume to secure promotions and maintain consumer excitement for and interest in the category 12-months out of the year.”

Having been dealing with fall fruit in New Jersey for so long, the company knows what it takes to stay successful.

“In our view, the key is to view the supplier relationship truly as a partnership,” Beaver said. “We believe it is our job to help our customers by creating a roadmap for product availability, identifying opportune weeks for volume-centric promotions and so forth. We are only as successful as our customer-partners, so we strive to work as harder than anyone else for our customers every single day.”

Photo: Chuck Torres, Jeff Whalen, and Bob Ritter of Whalen Farms.

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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