Why Are Cherries So Expensive?

Cherries are a delicious and popular fruit, but unlike most fruits, they don't usually get cheaper when they are in season. Cherries are expensive all year round, if you can even find them. There are multiple reasons for the high price.

One reason cherries are always so expensive is because they are a short-season crop. Sweet cherries are only grown in California, Oregon, and Washington, where the season runs for approximately three to four months. This creates a higher demand, as people know cherries won't be in season for long and want to buy fresh, in-season cherries while they can (via The Produce Nerd).

The combination of such a short growing season and the geographic limitations of where cherries are grown (which leads to higher production costs as they have to be transported all over the country) allow cherry growers to charge a higher price (via The Produce Nerd).

California has an advantage that allows growers to charge even more. California cherries are the first to market, which means that when grocery stores first begin selling cherries, their stock is lower than during the rest of the season. One thing they do to help customers with sticker shock is to change the size of the bag. A standard bag of cherries is approximately two pounds, but when California cherries first arrive at the market, they will often be sold in 1.33-pound bags.

High demand for cherries

Another factor that affects the price of cherries is the yield. Cherry crops alternate in volume each year, simply because cherry trees don't produce a uniform amount. Some years are heavy yields, and in years where the yield is expected to be lower, you can count on price to be higher.

The variety of cherry also plays a role in price. Most grocery stores sell Bing cherries, but Rainier are also popular, though they tend to be even more expensive. Rainier cherries are more delicate. They bruise more easily and are more easily damaged by rain and wind (via Eat Like No One Else).

Rainier cherries originated in Washington in 1952, though the first crops each season are available from California. The price of Rainier cherries is so high for the simple reason of supply and demand. A lot of people want to buy them and they are only available for a short window, so people are willing to pay more for them. 

For those who love cherries, but don't love the price, they typically have the best sale prices around the Fourth of July, so as Independence Day draws near, you should plan to stock up on some cherries.