Background: Cherries in the United States
The United States has historically been the largest exporter of cherries worldwide, followed by Turkey and Chile. U.S. cherry production has increased from 160,844 tons in 2003 to 253,286 tons in 2005, an average annual increase of 25 percent (FAO, 2007). Washington state records the highest production of sweet cherries in the U.S. (150,000 tons; USDA NASS, 2006).
The majority of sweet cherries are grown for fresh consumption, while 40 percent are processed as brined, canned, frozen, dried or used for juice. More than 50,000 tons of sweet cherries are exported annually to Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other countries from the U.S.
Sweet cherries add color and flavor to food products. Maraschino cherries, which are made from fresh sweet cherries, are best known as a signature garnish, but they also are a taste-tempting, eye-appealing ingredient in food products. Glacé cherries lend their bright color and unique taste to many kinds of food products. Dark sweet cherries, either frozen or canned, are a multi-functional ingredient, adding color, flavor and nutrition to products. Food manufacturers and others development products will find processed sweet cherries available all year. Product information on the various forms of sweet cherries can be found at left.