Jul 30, 2019New Jersey Peach growers sponsor ‘Peach Party’ days
The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is in its seventh year sponsoring “Peach Party” days focusing on Jersey peaches at farmers markets, farms, restaurants and supermarkets.
Often combined with amateur pie-baking competitions, these days have been heightening consumer awareness of the superiority of the locally grown fruit, according to the PPC. This summer’s peach days numbered 25 across the state, with ten pie-baking contests. Two grand-prizes of $300 each are awarded in early September – one for north Jersey competitors; one for south Jersey competitors.
“These events have definitely heightened awareness of the superiority of Jersey-grown peaches as compared to peaches brought in from other states, like California,” says Santo John Maccherone, chair of the PPC. “When you figure that our peaches are in stores and farm stands within a couple days as opposed to long-distance shipping, it’s easy to understand why ours are better. Peaches are a fairly delicate fruit and must be consumed within a few days of being purchased. Otherwise, the pulp can turn mushy.”
For the first month of full availability (July), shipments were about 200,000 boxes ahead of last year. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s report for the 2018 peach season was 46-million pounds, with a production value of more than $41 million, an increase of about $1 million from 2017. “We hope to surpass that figure with this year’s crop,” says Maccherone. New Jersey consistently ranks No. 3 in US peach production. Among the markets across the state carrying New Jersey peaches are Stop and Shop, Acme, Kings, Shoprite, Trader Joe, Aldi, Redner, Giant, Whole Foods, and Wegmans
“This year’s flavor is very good,” says Bonnie Lundblad, sales representative for Sunny Valley International, in Glassboro and a PPC board member, “All growers thinned for large fruit this year, and that’s what’s being shipped to retailers,” she continues. “Yellow peach availability is excellent through and right after Labor Day. Based on estimates at this time, we’ll be shipping NJ peaches until about September 1th5.”
At midseason in late July, markets had good availability of freestone and white-fleshed peaches (one consumer the PPC questioned declared “this year’s white peaches are like eating sugar, they’re so sweet”).
The PPC reports several new varieties being picked this season, including July and August Rose (white-fleshed), Brigantine (yellow-fleshed nectarines), Silverglo (white-fleshed nectarines). Evelyn, Tiana and Selena (yellow-fleshed peaches).
Above, Santo Maccherone looks at a bin of Glenglo peaches. Photo: New Jersey Peach Promotion Council
The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is a non-profit voluntary organization of growers, shippers, wholesalers and associated industries dedicated to maintaining a viable peach industry in the Garden State for the purpose of preserving farmers and farmland; and to providing the highest quality and best tasting fresh peaches for consumers. New Jersey is the fourth-largest peach producing state in the country, with approximately 55 orchards on 5,000 acres, producing 22,000-2,5000 tons, valued at approximately $30-million.