(April 1) SELAH, Wash. — The newest packer addition to Rainier Fruit Co. will boost its apple, cherry and pear production by 2 million boxes.

Rainier announced March 26 it would start selling fruit for Price Cold Storage and Packing Co. Inc., Yakima, on April 19.

“Their addition continues the consolidation taking place in the Northwest apple industry,” said Suzanne Wolter, Rainier’s business development director.

“Their product and customer mix will fit well into what we’ve got going on.”

Aubrey Horton, the former Washington Apple Commission foodservice marketing manager who last summer joined Price as its North Carolina-based regional foodservice marketing specialist, and Price salesmen Paul Newman, Ron Conrad and Chris Ringer have accepted positions with Rainier.

Newman will manage organic sales in addition to regular sales, Wolter said. The others will maintain their current sales efforts, she said.

Bob Price, president, said the sales agreement helps improve logistics.

“We’re not a very big player in the apple business,” he said. “Instead of us going out and rounding up fruit from around the valley for something we may not have, this way we’re part of a bigger program that’s more conducive for a better return to the grower.”

The family-owned Price, founded in 1935, brings its long-running foodservice and niche sales to the deal.

Wolter said there won’t be much sales overlap since the two companies have different customers. Price has focused on packing gift boxes, overwrapped product and other specialty packs.

This is the second partnership the two companies have formed in a year. Rainier began selling Price’s organic apples and pears through an agreement the two companies struck last summer.

Rainier expects to pack 14 million boxes of fruit this season, a 17% increase over last year.

Rainier, which has packed fruit for more than a century, also sells fruit for the Naches-based Allan Brothers Inc., and Rowe Farms Inc; Matson Fruit Co., Selah; Blue Star Growers Inc., Cashmere; and Earl G. Brown & Sons Inc., Milton-Freewater, Ore.