Acquisition of Starr Ranch Growers increases CMI cherry supply by 70 per cent 

CMI Orchards preparing for its biggest Northwest cherry season yet after the acquisition of Starr Ranch Growers added significant volume and expanded seasonal availability to complement its expansive cherry portfolio.

CMI's portfolio includes Red, Red, Rainier, organic, Jumbo XXL, Skylar Rae and Strawberry cherries

CMI’s portfolio includes Red, Red, Rainier, organic, Jumbo XXL, Skylar Rae and Strawberry cherries

Completed in November 2023, the acquisition has substantially bolstered CMI’s cherry supply with supply partners Custom Apple Packers in Wenatchee WA, and Diamond Fruit Growers in Hood River, OR.

“By welcoming Starr Ranch into the CMI family, we’re set to handle about 20 per cent of all cherries grown in the Northwest,” said CMI president Bob Mast.

“This isn’t just a small step – it’s a giant leap that increases our cherry supply by 70 per cent and expands the time we are able to be in the market. We’ll be able to start the season earlier and keep going later. This move positions us to become one of the strongest, most significant players in the cherry arena.”

Jim Thomas, owner of Starr Ranch Growers, highlighted the importance of the partnership.

“This alliance brought together two distinguished companies to address market needs,” he said.

“Retailers have been seeking earlier cherry availability and an extended season. By merging our strengths, we are now equipped to fulfil these requests, providing our customers with high-quality cherries throughout the entire Northwest cherry season.”

Jim Thomas, owner of Starr Ranch Growers

Jim Thomas, owner of Starr Ranch Growers

CMI’s portfolio includes Red, Rainier, organic, Jumbo XXL, Skylar Rae and Strawberry cherries, as well as its flagship American Dream programme for merchandising around key patriotic holidays and summer promotions.

“We truly have a cherry for every shopper, every market and every demographic,” he said.

“And now with our expanded seasonal availability, retailers can reap the rewards of cherry season for even longer.”

Joel Hewitt, CMI’s vice president of sales, shared that while it’s still too early to estimate the total production volume for Northwest cherries, the growing season is progressing well with minimal weather impacts to report.

“We had a few prolonged sub-zero days at the tail end of winter which impacted bud development in some regions, but the extent to which this impacted the crop is not yet known. The warmer spring days we’re having could push harvest ahead by a couple of days–time will tell,” he said.

The Starr alliance also added an additional cherry packing facility to the CMI family.

“Having four advanced cherry packing operations means we can be more nimble and responsive to the needs of our customers, allowing us to run specialty packs and varieties in addition to our regular Red and Rainier cherry volume,” Hewitt said.

CMI’s cherry season is expected to start between late-May and early-Jun