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Jul 26, 2001 09:49 AM

the price of cherries

  • s

In the past 10 days cherries were purchased at the following prices:

1) .99/lb at a Brooklyn F&V store
2) 1.99/lb at a Manhattan sidewalk cart
3) 3.99/lb at a Manhattan supermarket
4) 4.99/lb at a fancier Manhattan F&V store(Listakos)

The quality and taste were remarkably similar, though the sidewalk cart's cherries were lighter red on average. Any explanation for such a price disparity?

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  1. One obvious thought - Overhead plus the fact that Manhattan has pitiful supermarkets. ( these may be the same thing in different guises )
    I just paid $2.29 for cherries at a Wegmans located in a highway shopping center in central Jersey.

    1. The cost of running the business is the main source of the price disparity...the rent on a pushcart vs.some sleek 'gourmet' store,employees,etc.Some pushcarts and discount fruit/veg places buy their produce from jobbers who have overipe/slightly imperfect stuff which often can be very good if you buy carefully.They rely on a high turnover.There are two guys on the corner of Grand St. and the Bowery who sell fruit so cheaply that there's always a line of people buying from them.The amount of fruit that they sell in a few hours is pretty awesome.

      1 Reply
      1. re: M.K.

        Chinatown has the lowest F &V prices I have seen in NYC. I have wondered if it's due to competition, volume, or lower quality. Store rents can't be that low.

      2. b
        Brandon Nelson


        There is progression that goes on at a wholesale produce market. Wholesalers show up in the wee earlry hours to sell their goods. Those who arrive early to buy their produce for their retail store, restaraunt, or bakery get first shot at the best quality stuff. They pay the highest prices, and in turn they will have the highest retail (an oversimplication, but I'm using it simply to illustrate this point).

        As the morning progresses prices tend to fall. Competition heats up, and no one wants to bring any product home. This is when the deals can be found. You will often see a reflection of this low wholesale buy as well. A retailer that gets a deal tends to pass it on to his customers.

        During peak season the difference between the early buy, and the late buy cherries is small. Everone has a lot of their best fruit now. You can get good deals on great quality fruit.

        There are also those retailers who have that "upscale image" to maintain. They wouldn't dream of selling a cherry for less than $4 lb whatever their wholesale price is.

        Enjoy the good deals. They aren't going to last for long, and good cherries are a treat.

        One final though. Different varieties of cherries look different. I don't mean the obvious difference between a Ranier and a Bing. A Bing and a Northwestern are are 2 similar sized red cherries, Bings tend to be darker. Your lighter cherries may have been different variety than their darker cousins. Some varieties tend to fetch higher prices.


        8 Replies
        1. re: Brandon Nelson

          Thanks for all the clearly explained information, Brandon!
          I have oftened been frustrated and curious about pricing stages and the flux . . . some retailers ( and wholesalers) have up to $2.# differences on what seems the same item, the same darn day!
          I have a question . . . who buys for Farmer Market stands? These free-standing markets offer such great value and I often wonder if they are able to go direct to the source for many items to save cost for us consumers.
          There is this great stand on the way up to Amador County (Slough-house is the name, way out in the prairie; been going there for 20 years & am always blown away by "their" growth.) They once sold only local sweet corn, peaches & cherries, the best you'd ever had, I swear. Ten years in and the stand is 3x's the size selling everything from squashes to really perfect gourdes. Where are these coming from? Local, you think? The sweet red onions they sell could be eaten like an apple. I like to think it's coming from around the area. It's always an unbelieveable deal.
          (By-the-way, I hope you're wearing sunscreen at Berryesa over your vacation time. It is a beautiful summer!) hear from you when you are back!

          1. re: Lucy Gore
            Brandon Nelson


            Got a little sunburn, but not bad. Enjoyed my families company.

            The buyers and sources vary for open air markets. Anything that is certified by the U.S.D.A. has to meet some geographical guidelines that non certified markets don't. From what I recall you have to do grower direct selling to qualify for certification, no middlemen.

            Private stands are exempt from this. Some simply send an order to a broker and takes delivery for it. Others have a buyer that hits the open market in the wee hours. Some do a little of both. Valleragas, for example, has their own trucks and does their own produce purchasing. Albertsons is big enough that they buyer make deals out on the fields, take delievery at their distibution centers, and then ship that product to their stores.

            I hope this fills in at least some of the gaps. I don't know the specifics for all the retailers in our region.


            1. re: Brandon Nelson

              Thanks, Brandon.
              That answers many specifics. It would be fun to follow you around at work for a few days and learn more!

          2. re: Brandon Nelson

            I just got back from the Berkeley Bowl, where they had four different varieties of cherries: Bings and Rainiers, and a variety called "Van" the same size but darker than Bings, which I bought, and another variety whose name I can't recall (something like "Langen"?) which was also darker and a little bigger.

            Can anyone give me more info on these varieties?

            By the way, the Bowl had the first Gravensteins I've seen this season, as well as over a dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes and more varieties of plums than I bothered to count. Mid-summer is definitely here!

            I felt positively giddy, and I want you to know that in the hour+ I spent there, my thoughts were filled with all you chowhounds: those who are lucky enough to have access to this bounty, and those who sadly are not.

              1. re: Samo

                I think I would have remembered "rabbit" cherries.

                I guess if I want to be a true chowhound I'll have to take notes when out food shopping!

                  1. re: Brandon Nelson

                    "Lambert" sounds right. Delicious!

                    The cherries have been so good this year (after so many bad years for cherries in CA), that I've been playing with them: I tried -- not very successfully -- to make cherry sorbet; I made ice cream with fresh cherries; and I pitted and individually froze some.

                    And then there are the afternoons when the cherries never even get to a bowl: I just curl up with the whole colander full and a book ...