Why are cherries so expensive?


Cherries, with their sweetness and vibrant red hue, are a beloved fruit enjoyed by many. However, a curious phenomenon sets cherries apart from most fruits – their price remains high throughout the year, regardless of whether they are in season.


  1. Limited growing season

Cherries boast a short growing season, confining their cultivation to the orchards of California, Oregon, and Washington. This exclusive geographical focus means that sweet cherries are only available for a mere three to four months each year. As a result, the demand for fresh, in-season cherries skyrockets, as consumers know they have a limited window to indulge in these delectable fruits. The scarcity created by this short growing season naturally drives up the price, making cherries a sought-after and relatively rare commodity.



  1. Geographical constraints and transportation costs

The geographic limitations of cherry cultivation further amplify their cost. With the primary growing regions located on the West Coast, cherries must be transported across the country to reach consumers. This logistical challenge adds to the production costs, as cherries require careful handling and rapid transportation to maintain their freshness. The combination of a short growing season and the need for extensive transportation contributes to the premium price tag attached to cherries.


  1. California’s first-to-market advantage

California holds a strategic advantage in the cherry market by being the first to bring cherries to market. When the cherry season commences, California cherries hit the shelves, but with limited supply. To ease the initial sticker shock for consumers, retailers often sell California cherries in smaller quantities, such as 1.33-pound bags, creating a perception of affordability. However, as the season progresses, the overall supply increases, and prices may become more competitive.


  1. Fluctuating yields

Cherry crops are notorious for their inconsistency in yield. The natural alternation in volume from year to year is a result of the inherent variability in cherry tree productivity. In years of heavy yields, the market may see a relative abundance of cherries, leading to lower prices. Conversely, in years of lower yields, consumers can expect prices to rise due to the limited availability of cherries.


  1. Cherry variety matters

The variety of cherries available in the market also influences their price. While Bing cherries are a common sight in grocery stores, Rainier cherries, with their distinct sweetness and delicate nature, command a premium. Rainier cherries are more susceptible to bruising and damage from adverse weather conditions, contributing to their higher price. The scarcity of Rainier cherries, coupled with their unique flavour profile, makes them a coveted and pricey choice among cherry enthusiasts.

The expensive nature of cherries can be attributed to a combination of factors, including their limited growing season, geographical constraints, first-to-market advantage, fluctuating yields, and the influence of cherry varieties. For cherry enthusiasts seeking a more budget-friendly option, planning to purchase during festive seasons may offer the best opportunity to savour these delightful fruits without breaking the bank. Cherries may be a luxury, but understanding the factors behind their cost adds a layer of appreciation to every bite.