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Sunny Valley International sees rising demand for local peaches

By
Keith Loria

Sunny Valley International is among the largest marketer of New Jersey peaches and nectarines. The Glassboro, NJ-based company has been in the stone fruit business in New Jersey for more than 25 years, and its presence as a premier stone fruit supplier has only continued to grow over the years.

Sunny Valley is the exclusive marketer for the Jersey Fruit Cooperative, which includes two stone fruit growers, and it is also the exclusive sales agent for Larchmont Farms a New Jersey stone fruit operation.

“This season, we anticipate that we will handle more than 700,000 case equivalents of New Jersey yellow and white flesh peaches and nectarines,” said Tom Beaver, director of sales and marketing for the company. “Eastern stone fruit is a very mature category. We are fortunate that fresh New Jersey peaches and nectarines are synonymous with summer. Stone fruit boasts innumerable health benefits, but is also a decadent, desert-like item. It’s no wonder that consumers up-and-down the East Coast are clamoring for New Jersey peaches when our season starts.”

Looking at the upcoming peach season, Beaver noted that the crop looks outstanding.

“We were fortunate to avoid any late freeze events and we had the perfect number of chill hours over the winter, so we are expecting a full crop,” he said. “New Jersey peaches have always been the ‘local’ option for consumers throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic. This season, with unparalleled logistical challenges, we believe that there will be more incentive than ever before to build produce marketing efforts around local products.”

Sunny Valley’s stone fruit is picked, packed and on retail store shelves within a day, maybe two of harvest.

“You simply can’t beat that when you’re shipping peaches and nectarines across the country,” Beaver said. “Additionally, with retailers increasingly focusing on sustainability, road miles from point of origin to delivery can’t be understated. Over the past year, the importance of local supply chains has been on display, and we think that this trend will only expand throughout the summer this year.”

Despite being a mature category, Beaver feels there are more opportunities now than ever before to make the category exciting.

“With special pack options from club boxes to grab-and-go bags, peaches can be marketed effectively to any strata of consumer,” he said. “Given that we anticipate excellent volume this season, we also think that there will be tremendous opportunities to promote New Jersey peaches throughout the summer.”

The company feels very fortunate that business has thrived throughout the pandemic, and it continues to be a go-to option for customers.

“Frankly, we are proud of the role that we have played in keeping the supply chain filled during this unprecedented time,” Beaver said. “At the grower level, our farmers went above-and-beyond the maximize worker safety, and have worked tirelessly to continue providing fresh stone fruit and blueberries in an ever-changing consumer landscape.”

 

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