(July 24) YAKIMA, Wash. — Continuing to strengthen its Northwest apple program, L&M Cos., Raleigh, N.C., is adding another packer to its lineup.

L&M will become the exclusive sales and marketing agency for Clasen Fruit & Cold Storage Co. Inc., Union Gap, Aug. 1.

Keith Mathews, general manager of the L&M’s Selah office, said the continuing fallout from the collapse of the Washington Apple Commission’s marketing prompted the alliance.

“In the past, a middle-sized packing company could do a fair job selling through niches, brokers and a couple of smaller regional grocery chains,” he said.

“Without the commission’s presence on advertising and promotions and their regional representatives, it’s a difficult time for some of those mid-size operators. There is still a lot of them trying to calculate how to best survive in the future.”

Mathews said the addition of the Clasen label will be L&M’s last apple packer expansion for this season, when pickings of the earliest ginger gold varieties is set to start Aug. 1.

“We want to grow but will only grow as we develop strong retail alliances,” Mathews said.