Governor Granholm to Highlight Michigan Cherries During Investment Mission to Japan

Contact: Heidi Hansen 517-335-6397

July 7, 2005

Walk in Cherry Royale Parade Saturday

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm will celebrate Michigan’s cherry industry when she participates in the National Cherry Festival Cherry Royale Parade on Saturday.
But, when Granholm travels to Japan later this month to promote jobs and economic development in Michigan, she will again highlight one of Michigan’s agricultural jewels:  tart cherries.
The cherry promotion will come on the first day of a week-long mission when she hosts a seminar and reception for automotive executives at the U.S. Pavilion at the World Expo in Aichi, Japan, that includes a reception offering Japanese and American cuisine.
“The Japanese have a historical connection with cherries, not the least of which are the beautiful cherry trees that grace our nation’s capital,” said Granholm.  “While in Japan, we will showcase all that Michigan has to offer, including our rich manufacturing traditions, our highly-skilled workforce, and agricultural products that are second to none.”
Michigan’s cherry farmers are looking to Japan and other Asian countries as new markets for the cherries that grow so well here.  Japan, in particular, is considered an emerging market for Michigan’s tart cherries.
Currently, the primary focus of marketing efforts in Japan is on the health benefits of tart cherries.  Michigan’s tart cherries are bursting with antioxidants that may relieve the pain of arthritis and gout and may help prevent cancer and heart disease.  The Japanese are very health conscious, and the health benefits of tart cherries are appealing.  Michigan tart cherry products currently exported to Japan include dried cherries, frozen cherries, and cherry juice concentrate.
Tart cherries are not a traditional staple of the Japanese diet.  However, innovative gourmet recipes and bakery items, especially using dried cherries, have gotten enthusiastic response from Japanese consumers.
Michigan cherry farmers have used funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to actively pursue all opportunities for sale of cherry products in Japan.

The Michigan cherry growers, through the Cherry Marketing Institute, a Lansing-based promotion organization, have held health benefits seminars in Japan and have had exhibits at trade shows.  In addition, representatives of various Japanese companies have come to Michigan to see harvesting and processing operations.
Among the Michigan delicacies that will be offered at the Michigan reception hosted by Granholm are Michigan cherry and brie triangles with red wine sauce, curried chicken and Traverse City cherry mini puffs, oatmeal cherry chocolate chip cookies, and cherry lemonade, with wine provided by the Leelanau-based Black Star Farms.