montmorency cherries

Montmorency Cherries © King Orchards

If you watched the headlines last spring and summer, you are probably aware that the Michigan tart cherry crop, nearly all of which is the Montmorency variety of cherries, suffered a 90% loss this year. This resulted in an extremely short supply of U.S. grown tart cherries, and by extension, a shortage of tart cherries available for juice. Because we are tart cherry growers ourselves, we were aware of the impending crop failure early, and were able to get out in front of the curve to secure enough locally and regionally grown, USDA certified organic tart cherries for our Northport Organic tart cherry juice concentrate.

Not everyone in the tart cherry juice business has been able to source Montmorency tart cherries for their products, and many have resorted to importing Morello sour cherries from overseas. We have noticed over the past several months that some retailers have been selling the imported Morello cherry  juice without telling their customers of this important change to their product. We contacted a few online retailers ourselves, such as Dynamic Health and Swanson’s, and asked them if their tart cherry juice products were made from US grown Montmorency tart cherries. We were told they were using imported “tart cherries” of an unspecified variety. This most assuredly means they are not Montmorency, as European cherries are primarily Morello.

We have no issue with honest retailers using Morello cherries in their products, or importing cherries to meet their ingredient needs. The problem is that many of these retailers are not presenting complete, truthful information to their customers. Instead, they are allowing their customers to think they are getting U.S. grown tart cherries (Montmorency), with the same health benefits and research studies backing them, and at a lower price than it would be possible for any honest retailer to sell them.

It is the Montmorency tart cherry upon which the recent scientific studies have been performed regarding muscle recovery, heart health and antioxidants. It is Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate that has generated unsolicited testimonials from thousands of happy customers who feel they get real results from drinking the juice. In fact, we have had customers tell us they have used other brands faithfully, but recently weren’t getting the same “feel better” results they were used to. It turns out that one of our competitors is using Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate to sell to their customers directly, but selling the imported Morello cherry juice on grocery store shelves. Their bottle labels are confusingly similar, and a customer picking up their regular brand of tart cherry juice would never know they weren’t getting the same product they had purchased previously.

Our intention is not to disparage others in the tart cherry or functional foods industry, but to let potential cherry juice buyers know how important it is to compare cherries to cherries. If you’re not sure if you’re getting the real deal, ask your retailer the following questions. Is the tart cherry juice they are selling grown entirely in the United States. Is it 100% Montmorency cherries? Is it USDA certified organic from the orchard to the processor  to the bottling facility? If they aren’t able to give you an unqualified, simple Yes  to these questions, then the answer is probably No.

Northport Organic Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate is made from 100% U.S. Grown, USDA certified organic Montmorency tart cherries.