Regina Cherry


The 2023 season turned out to be a very difficult season for the foreign markets.  The outlook of the foreign market in the spring was outstanding. The whole Asia Pacific (APAC) region had finally put the Covid-19 pandemic behind them. China finally reopened its economy and people had returned to their normal life. Buyers were excited for the arrival of NW cherries. However, the unprecedented spring heatwave in eastern Washington damaged flower buds, caused a flash bloom scenario speeding the ripening of the fruits and shortened the season.

From the start of the NWC season, the foreign market was faced with numerous challenges such as lack of quality cherries available and a long crossover with California cherries. Due to weather issues, the harvest of California cherries was also delayed by weeks. CA cherries were abundantly available in all major NWC foreign markets until early July. For many weeks, the size of the CA cherry retail displays with inexpensive cherries would dwarf NWC displays with reasonable quality cherries. It wasn’t until after the first week of July when the foreign markets were finally able to receive any kind of supply consistency and quality fruit. Just as the foreign markets started to roll, foreign buyers were told by their supplier(s) in early August that the cherry season was winding down.  


The 2023 export volume doubled from 30,490 tons in 2022 to 61,086 tons. The export to domestic sales ratio surpassed the 30:70 benchmark to 33:67, respectively. 

Volume to China increased 120 percent to 1,160,000 20lb boxes and South Korea gained 188 percent back to the normal level at 782,000 boxes. Japan expanded 147 percent to 175,000 boxes and received the highest ever percentage of non-fumigated fruits at 58 percent of the volume. Taiwan continues to be the most reliable market, it increased by 50 percent to 643,000 boxes. Australia amplified by more than double of its 2022 volume with 124,000 boxes. The biggest growth region by percentage is the SE Asia region, where Vietnam saw 180 percent increase to 313,000 boxes compared to 112,000 in 2022. Thailand and Singapore both expanded by 240 percent and 437 percent, respectively, for a combined volume of 225,000 boxes. Canada continues to be the number one export market for the NWC industry. Its volume was just under 2 million boxes, an increase of 51%, representing just under 11 percent of the total NWC production. Mexico benefited from the affordability of NW cherries, as volume to Mexico exploded by 246% to an all-time high of 488,000 boxes.


The top five foreign markets are: Canada at 32.5 percent of the total export volume, followed by China at 19 percent, S. Korea at 12.8 percent, Taiwan at 10.5 percent and the SE Asia region at 10.2 percent.

South Korea, Taiwan, China, Vietnam (and the SE Asia region), and Mexico continued to be the center of NWCG’s focus.  The NWCG continued with small and successful marketing campaigns in India.  Although India’s consumption prospect does not match that of China’s, there is a large pool of upper income families for NWCG to successfully target and the long-term outlook is very positive. 

The NWCG foreign market team has recognized the changes to comprehend the significance of ecommerce channels and the reach of digital marketing.  Thus, the foreign market team members continue to reshuffle promotion budgets to emphasize the NWC brand, product awareness, and health messages via digital marketing channels and collaborate with e-retailers and online to offline (O2O) sales channels to push NWC sales.  This year, NWCG invested in various digital marketing campaigns, public relation (PR) events, and NWC health benefit talks to accompany the online promotions and to broaden NWC health messages.  The result of this integrated marketing strategy resulted in a positive NWC brand image and sales in all sales channels.

Typically, in select APAC markets, at the beginning of the NWC season, NWCG would see direct competition from low-cost cherries produced in countries in Eastern Europe.  This year’s large late CA cherry crop wiped out the opportunities for those Eastern European producers, but it also impacted early NWC sales. 



The most important and largest foreign market for the industry. It benefits from the close vicinity to the U.S., a well-established transportation system, and an extensive supermarket network. NWCs were available in the Canadian market from the beginning of June through mid-July. Then the Canadian retailers started switching to B.C. grown cherries when they became widely available in mid-July.

There were plenty of CA cherries available in the market at the beginning of NWC season. The delay of CA cherries meant NWCs had to compete for shelf space and contest an aggressive CA cherry pricing strategy in June. The unsustainable market condition drove retail prices down and created a “race to the bottom” sensorial that lasted until the middle of July. Purchasing patterns were very irregular and it seemed there were daily adjustments to the prices being offered. 

To ensure the presence of the NWCs when B.C. cherries were in the market, the NWCG implemented circular ad programs and product sampling campaigns with select major supermarket chains.  It was the first year we ran NWC demos in Canada. The sampling campaign increased these supermarkets’ NWC sales by upwards of 300% at some locations. Some retailers that did not participate but were exposed to seeing these events take place at their competing stores.  One can be sure they will be looking to see how they can also participate in the 2024 season.




In late spring, the Chinese government finally reopened its borders and returned to “normalcy”. However, economic recovery was uneven, therefore, strategically our focus was on the first-tier cities and select second-tier cities located in the southern and coastal regions.

To increase NWC awareness, strengthen the knowledge level of health benefits, and reinforce our brand and competitiveness against local grown cherries, NWCG kicked off a 4-week long series of PR events during the month of July in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. Guests from mainstream media, social media platforms, and KOL attended all four events. The 2023 NWC ambassador, Mr. Zhang Chen, a backstroke champion at the World Games, explained the close relationship between sports, health, the health effects of eating NWCs, and a cheerful attitude towards life. The PR campaign brought over 500 online media spotlights of sports, fashion KOLs, and influencers. It garnered an estimated 129,806,283 clicks with an estimated advertising value over USD$15 million.

Growth opportunities for NWC in China lie in the expansion of the second and third-tier cities; however, current trade conflicts between the US and China are hampering our development.  In the meantime, NWCG will continue to target the middle- and high-income consumers in southern and coastal cities.



This year’s top priorities for the South Korean market were to solidify NWC’s premium image, displace CA cherries from the retail outlets, and to fend off cherries from Uzbekistan in June.  NWCG broadened our NWC health messages and positioned ourselves as the cherries to consume.  The NWCG partnered with a top advertising agency to maximize the NWC health benefits exposure. 

NWCG collaborated with top supermarket chains and premium department stores to conduct in-store sampling in July and August. We implemented a month-long consumer contest via Facebook and Instagram platforms.  To further integrate our program, NWC videos were produced by a popular YouTuber in July to build excitement and increase awareness of the benefits of eating NWCs. The annual “Cherry Day” PR event was launched on July 2nd and over 50 media from all platforms were at the PR event to kick off the 2023 NWC season.  The result of the “Cherry Day” kick-off event included coverage of NWC product and brand awareness and health benefits. Articles were released through online programing channels, magazines, and social media platforms.

To make sure we covered all sales channels, the NWCG aligned with the top three ecommerce companies, Market Kurley, and to increase NWC’s online sales presence and advertisements.  Total impressions from 2 weeks of ad placement on the three ecommerce websites are estimated at 68 million and sales were increased by more than 60 percent compared to weeks with no advertisements.





Although Taiwan is not a growth market for the NWC industry, it is a market with a purchase consistency that the NWC industry can depend upon each year.  Our strategy for this market is to sustain NWC’s superior brand image and expand cherry health benefit awareness.  NWCG continues to look for new partnerships from regional retail chains and maintain collaborations with existing retailers. 

The sales momentum of imported fruits continued to be strong. However, the imported cherry sector market condition was challenging at the beginning of the season. CA cherries were abundantly available at every retail and wholesale sales channel. Containers of CA cherries continue to arrive in Taiwan until the last week of June. NWC was battling for shelf space and competing on price with CA cherries during the month of June. 

From the first week of July to mid-August, the NWC advertisements ran on numerous multimedia channels.  NWC images were on digital billboards inside popular subway stations located in Taipei and Kaohsiung, on several social medial platforms, KOL’s blogs, in lifestyle magazines, and on retail partners’ websites.  A 5-second looped NWC commercial was created to play on digital billboards inside popular department stores and on select TV programs. NWC product placement on first-rated healthy talk programs garnered an estimated 5 million impressions.  The estimated impressions from the digital marketing campaign surpassed 15 million impressions.  The monthly foot traffic in the subway stations and department stores is estimated at 4.5 million people.


During the 2023 NWC season, using various display strategies, Mexican retailers grew their NWC displays an average of 300%; thus, increasing visibility, increasing the availability of our seasonal product, and pushing increasing sales volumes.  Retailers like Walmart, Soriana, Chedraui, La Comer, HEB, Casa Ley, and Calimax grew their NWC display areas offering larger volumes of product on display and increased the number of days these large displays were set up in the stores.

California cherries were widely available in Mexico until the 2nd week of July.  Nonetheless, Mexico and many Latin America markets benefited from the affordability of the NWC this season.  NWC sales volume to Mexico increased by 245% to a record high of 488,000 boxes (20 lb. equivalents).  For the past 3 NWC seasons, Mexico has been our 5th largest export market. Even though Mexico is a price sensitive market, but it plays a strategic role for the industry. Mexico is the alternative market when the U.S. domestic market requires a “reset”.  It is an important market to absorb good quality, but small size fruits. 

As a result of integrated promotions in social media, public relations campaigns, the use of influencers, billboards, POS materials in retail stores and traditional markets, and advertisements with key retailers, the Mexican market has expanded the NWC consumer base in the recent years. The large robust customer base has provided a flexibility that allows the market to bounce back from a low production year with low volumes and high prices like in 2020 and 2022 and take advantage of the opportunities presented during a high production year like in 2021 and 2023.




NWCG believes in the next few years, the strongest growth will be from countries in the SE Asia region. Countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia are benefiting from the “decoupling from China” movement spearheaded by USA and the European Union. Record amounts of foreign investments are pouring into those countries. It will further enlarge these countries’ middle- and upper-class families.

This region was also impacted by the late CA cherries being widely available in late June – early July.  NWCG conducted marketing campaigns later than previous years to seperate NWCs from CA cherries. Despite a short NWC season and challenges from CA cherries, NWCG found that our cherries still occupied large sections of shelf space with visible NWC signage in all retail outlets. Consumers appreciate the quality of NWCs and trust our product. According to numerous retailers, NWC has always led the summer sales of imported fruit.

NWCG’s marketing campaigns were in full force. Product samplings were conducted with all key supermarket chains. NWC health messages with KOL and influencers across various social media platforms were pushed intensively.  Our in-country teams collaborated with key retail partners to increase product awareness and health benefits on their social media platforms and internet sites. We joined forces with major importers and wholesalers to run SMS campaigns to highlight NWC availability on their Facebook and Instagram pages and web sites. 




Demand for NW cherries will continue to grow in India. Many consumers who tasted our product this season confirmed that NW cherries are the best they have eaten.  Importers and retailers, who were a part of the NWC launch campaign, experienced good demand for our cherries. 

The younger population in India is increasing.  This new generation of consumers are open to explore and try new products.  They are health conscious and trust brands they recognize.  Rising affluence will be the biggest driver of increasing consumption.  Of India’s five household income levels, the top two income classes (elite and affluent) are the fastest growing. 


In 2023, the cherry industry was able to ship cherries to India under the “systems approach” protocol. Prior to the “systems approach” protocol, all cherries to India were required to be fumigated. Fumigation shortens a cherry’s shelf life. Though the volume to India is still small, we are seeing an increase in demand from importers and retailers.  More NWC shippers are delivering cherries to India under the systems approach protocol.

Promotions were concentrated on 4 large retail chains, 2 major wholesale markets, 3 e-commerce outlets, and traditional markets. Two NWC launch PR events were conducted in New Delhi and Mumbai in the beginning of July. The events were well attended by leading media personnel and US Embassy officials. The news of NWC arrival was announced via KOL blogs, social media influencers, digital media outlets, and traditional print media and lifestyle magazines.  



Sales volumes to overseas markets were higher across the board this season.  The fruit quality arrival was outstanding and strong demand from consumers continued until the end of the season.  The outlook for the near future in the Asia Pacific region is positive.  Vietnam and the SE Asia region will continue to thrive while Canada, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan should continue to be dependable markets.  As for China, a large population of unexploited targeted consumers located in the central region of the country should fuel NWC demand; however, the current geopolitics instability between the U.S. (the West) and China is not favorable for high profile consumer acquisition developments.

India is a market with good potential; however, distance to the market, transportation challenges, and the slow development of cold chain infrastructures are just a few obstacles that are hindering the development of this market. India is going to be a long-term project for the NWCG.

It is crucial to recognize that cherry producing countries like Turkey and Uzbekistan are eagerly trying to chip away NWC’s dominance in the Asia Pacific region.  China’s very own cherry production continues to expand as their quality continues to improve.  

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It is essential for NWCG to look for new markets to diversify risks, continue investments in market development, branding to remind consumers on the uniqueness/superiority of NWCs, and to maintain NWC’s dominance as the world’s premium cherry.