David Nelley of Oppy, Orchard View’s marking company, is interviewed about cherries arriving at your local supermarket.
Hello and welcome to Discover The Dalles on You Be All You Are TV. I’m your host Brad Harmon. Today my guest is David Nelley with Oppy. David welcome to the broadcast.
Thanks a lot Brad, good to be here.
Well, David we appreciate your taking time out of your busy day to join us. Now, you work with Orchard View Cherries and you’re part of their distribution services. Please, tell us a little bit about your relationship there.
Absolutely! So Oppy is a produce marketing company, actually one of the oldest in the industry, and we span mostly sales in North America, Canada and USA. And then more recently through acquisitions, manage sales into export markets, predominantly Asia as well.
That’s awesome. So you’re helping to get Orchard View Cherries all around the world, right?
Yeah, we invoice customers, as I said you know, predominantly retailers and wholesalers in Canada and USA, and then more recently through an export association, exporters who take fruit all over the world.
Excellent. David, tell us a little bit about why Orchard View Cherries are so popular. Why do people love Orchard View cherries so much?
Okay, well first of all they come from The Dalles, which is a really unique micro-climate. It’s dry and arid. Cherries don’t like rain and we’re in a little bit of a rain shadow created by Hood River. The Columbia River comes through creating a nice cooling effect to get the fruit producing and that gives us a little bit of a differentiation in terms of where the majority of the cherries come from in the Pacific Northwest which is little further north towards eastern Washington, so The Dalles is geographically distinct and then also a little distinct from a micro-climate.
So it helps produce really, really good cherries based on the location and the climate?
The location is right and then also the Bailey family who have been producing cherries in The Dalles for some time now, have grown, selected and grown varieties that are really popular and in demand, especially in the Asian markets. So, you know they’ve been very progressive in selecting cherries that are bright red, a great shape, has a nice thick green stem and some of those varieties are exactly what customers in parts of Asia really desire.
Great! Orchard View Cherries are always wonderful. I get my big crates every year and enjoy them all year long, if I can.
I hope you pay for them.
What? Yes sir! I’m a capitalist as well and I make sure that I cast my economic vote. So, now you mainly work with the retailers? Why are Orchard View Cherries so popular with the retailers and distributors? It’s not just because the customers love them.
Why do the retailers like to deal with Orchard View cherries?
First of all, people love cherries in summertime, June / July, nothing really says cherry… says summer, like cherries, like a big bowl of cherries at a picnic. So, people look for cherries and retailers know that in some cases, with some retailers, cherries become the single largest item of sales at a retail outlet during certain months of the summer. Consumers have been without cherries for a while. Yes, there is a crop from California, but the varieties and the quality of the fruit that comes out of the Pacific Northwest is really outstanding. it fits in with the month of July, 4th of July picnics, and so forth.
The retailers know that. What they really like about Orchard View cherries is that Orchard View is unique in that there’s a focus on nothing but cherries. They don’t grow a lot of stone fruit, a lot of apples, a lot of pears, a lot of berries. There is a primary focus on growing, harvesting, picking and packing cherries to be the very best they can. So, it’s a singular focus around cherries and that really shows through in the quality. We talked about the varieties, some of the new varieties of cherries that Orchard View have, their singular focus just around growing nothing but cherries, and then there’s a quality that comes out of the pack house as well.
Last season, Orchard View invested heavily in state-of-the-art technology, which saw Italian technicians living in The Dalles for months at a time and installing a new optical grading machine. This machine is relentless in its ability to sort through the cherries and select the very best ones that go in the box.
If we have an unfortunate touch of weather events, like rain or heavy wind, in the past perhaps those cherries wouldn’t have been picked. Now we can grade them and still get a quality pack out. So, retailers like that consistency of quality and the consistency of supply that really shines through and in the box that comes out of Orchard View.
Now they have one of the more elite packing houses in the world with the technology that they’ve put in, don’t they?
They really do, yeah, and it’s packing a lot of fruit that is desired, both from buyers who are pretty discerning in places like China and Taiwan, and also on the domestic market, where we got fantastic feedback from retail buyers in USA and in Canada and some of the more niche type stores that are really trying to differentiate themselves based on quality. They had really nice things to say about the quality they saw from Orchard View. On top of that, now we’ve got social media and consumers themselves are reaching out directly to Orchard View, to the Bailey family, to us, and once we get rolling with cherries and those clam shells go out with the email address from orchard view farms, we get all kinds of fantastic feedback.
That’s amazing! And you know it is the consistency of quality due to the way they grow it and in the way they pack it that really makes them great value. I know, I’m looking forward to the 4th of July and sitting on the deck and watching the fireworks with my bowl of Orchard View cherries. That’s coming up here in just a couple weeks.
That’s right, you know we’re just beginning to pack now. In fact, this is the first week of packing and we will be busy for the next eight weeks. It’s going to be a really busy rest of June, all of July and a little bit of August up there at Orchard View.
Another thing I find interesting is that they have chosen several different varieties to try to lengthen out the season for the consumer, so that they can have fresh cherries longer.
That’s right, the varieties are selected so that the supply can be even all the way through the season. For instance, if you just had one variety it would all come at once and that would be very difficult for labor… for the packing house, so, you know we’ve got… the Bailey’s now directly either own, lease, or control production on 2,400 acres of cherries. That’s a lot and the other thing that’s really worth noting is that of all the cherries that come into the pack house in Orchard View, over 80% of them are directly owned by at least, or blocks that are managed by the staff at Orchard View. That’s really important because it gives them total control on a cherry tree through the winter, all the way through flowering, through to the fruit set, when to pick it, harvesting and bringing it into the pack house. They control as many as they can because cherries are operated in an area with the variable weather, which is something none of us can control.
Yeah, l know. I grew up growing vegetables in greenhouses, which we love because we could control everything. It’s a bit of a gamble growing the cherries out in the beautiful, wonderful North West. David, any final thoughts on why everybody loves Orchard View cherries? We appreciate your joining us today, do you have any final thoughts?
We’re going to have cherries out to retailers across the US and Canada this summer so look for the Orchard View label and the distinctive black bag with the logo “Pick Your Moments” because you know, cherries are all about celebrating the moments of life that you described. The ones you cherish.
Great! Well, David thank you very much for joining us on the program today and thank you for joining us on Discover The Dalles on You Be All You Are TV and I hope that we’ll see you again soon on another broadcast.