Manufacturing Awards ceremony last fall
with OCG receiving the Product Innovation
of the Year award. The Royal Harvest line
was recognized for its proprietary drying
process, which helps to protect the natural
sweetness of the fruit, as well as maintain
the moisture and texture content.
OCG President and CEO Tim Ramsey
said the company saw an opportunity to
grow, so it started a new product line to
help fill that gap. “The dried fruit segment of the food industry is a $50 million
business annually and it was a significant
opportunity for us,” Ramsey said.
He also added that the co-op is continually looking for new ways to deliver a high-value return to its family growers.
So far, the Royal Harvest fruit has seen
a strong response from bakeries, chefs
and other food professionals looking to
include the fruits in their own products. But
developing new products is just one way
that Oregon Cherry Growers is meeting the
demands of a changing food industry.
In a typical grocery store today, you will
find a jar of maraschino cherries that holds
around 20-25 cherries. But after the team
did some research, OCG concluded that
consumer usage is really only about 6-10
cherries. After some probing, OCG found
that the average consumer keeps maraschino cherries in their refrigerator for one,
two and even upwards of three years.
Spalding added that the positioning of
maraschino cherries in the grocery market
is over in the canned fruit aisle, so it’s not
really located where all the usage occurs.
“If you’re making an ice cream sundae or
want to use it in baking or you want to use
it to make your Manhattan drink, you have
to work pretty hard to find it in the grocery
A New Age
It was those findings that led the com-
pany to unveil its latest innovations — this
time in packaging. The new, convenient
pouch-style packages are the first of
their kind and have already received the
National Restaurant Association FABI Award
this past March. Spalding said they wanted
a solution that was not only beneficial to
the consumer, but also to the retailer.
“That’s when we came up with the
idea of putting maraschinos in pouches,”
Spalding said. “So what you can do is you
can peg them, you can clip-strip them, etc.
In a retail environment, that shelf-space is
very precious, so they’re constantly looking
Spalding said the pouches allow retail-
ers the opportunity to sell something that
perhaps they weren’t going to before. With
two different size pouches, an 8-count and
a 16-count, the company sees the pouches
as a way to match packaging in a delivery
vehicle with consumption patterns.
OCG has also recently introduced new
packaging on the distributor side of its
business. The company began to look at
the interaction bartenders have with cherries and found that the current usage of
gallon and half-gallon containers was a
sugary, sticky mess — leaving bartenders
with the option to either spoon the cherries
out or use a glove to grab them by hand.