How Sweet It Is: Here Come New Late-Season Plums

From Growing Produce | 21 December 2021

Overview of plums from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on December 14, 2021. 

Kingsburg Orchards, a grower/packer/shipper in Kingsburg, CA, released 10 new and exclusive varieties of plum that it calls a “real gamechanger in the stone fruit category.”

“Our research and development team has been developing many new and unique varieties over the past 20 years,” Vice President Chad Allred says. “But these new plums are some of the most exciting new developments we have seen.”

Plums in California are typically harvested between late May through September. The new varieties at Kingsburg Orchards start harvesting in October and continue through Christmas. And they are sweeter than regular-season plums, Allred says.

Volumes (in Kg) of plums from California in the US Market
chart 2021 12 20T230208.588

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

“We’ve worked hard to get very high sugar levels in these plums. Standard plums are somewhere between 12-15 Brix. These new late-season ones start at about 18-19 and go up to 25 Brix,” Allred says. “They are by far our sweetest plums of the season.”

The challenge for Kingsburg involves introducing a product that normally does not have much presence at this time of year.

“These next three months are ones where retailers generally don’t have stone fruit from anywhere in the world, so it really helps build up the sales dollars in the stone fruit category,” Allred says. “Data has shown that plum consumption in the past few years has been increasing, and I feel that much of this steady rise is due to the improved eating quality.”

The new plums will allow the stone fruit category to expand via a new market opportunity, Allred says.

“A lot of stone fruit doesn’t often hit the market when school is in session. So our product doesn’t make it into school lunches, for example,” he says. “However, Kingsburg Orchards is marketing the product in bulk and also consumer-ready packs such as pouch bags and clamshells, which have seen good reception.”

As for pricing on these plums, Allred likens it to early season pricing

Reported price (in USD) of plums from California in the US Market
chart 2021 12 20T230930.027

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

“We are expecting to get a premium for this product because of the flavor and the late-season timing. But we’re not asking significantly more than we did a month ago,” he says. “Many of our top retail partners are already supporting these new varieties with programs though Christmas. We hope to continue to introduce these to more customers this fall.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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