Chelan Fresh Marketing to expand storage

Chelan, Wash.-based Chelan Fruit Marketing intends to add pear packing and cold storage to a plant in Chelan Falls, Wash., that it purchased from Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc.

“The plant has been used for cherry and apple packing,” said Mike Nicholson, domestic sales manager for Chelan Fresh Marketing.

The deal was made in April. Roger Pepperl, Stemilt’s marketing director, said the facility became available when Stemilt purchased Dovex Fruit Co. in Wenatchee.

“We’ll be packing pears there and once we get our pears pretty well in storage, we’ll be packing apples there,” he said. “It works well for pears and certain varieties of apples.”


Pear Bureau Northwest teaches on ripening

Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest seeks to educate retailers and consumers about buying ripe, ready-to-eat pears, said Dennis James, marketing director.

“The Check the Neck program is pretty significant,” he said.

“It’s the equivalent to explaining how to drive a car now that you’ve bought it. If we don’t get over this hump successfully, doing other activities are a little frivolous. That’s going to be such a focal point of this coming season and certainly we’ll have promotions specific to individual retailers.

“And we’ll have highlights for season, as we try to get consumer awareness of pears going with what we call the Halloween Parade in October. The retailer is participating in a program where they’re getting consumers excited about pears, and that can do nothing but help.”

The bureau also is partnering with Epicurious.com, a recipe, menu and food-oriented website, James said.


Rainier Fruit Co. plans acreage increases

Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co. hopes to increase its organic apple and pear production this season, said Suzanne Wolter, marketing director.

“Overall, our organic volume will double this year,” she said.

“We’ll go from just over 1 million apples and pears to just over 2 million this season. I do know our pear numbers are also going to increase on the organic side 40% to 50%. Most of that is going to come in bartletts, bosc, anjou and red pears.”


Stemilt Growers completes Dovex acquisition

Stemilt Growers Inc.’s acquisition of Dovex Fruit Co. took effect officially in June, giving Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt unprecedented access to more pears than ever, said Roger Pepperl, Stemilt’s marketing director.

“We have two buildings producing pears — the Stemilt building, which has been totally updated, and we also market the Hi-Up Co-op Growers in the upper Wenatchee Valley, Pepperl said.

“Now, between the two of us, we have four packing lines.”

Dovex, whose plant is adjacent to Stemilt’s, strengthens Stemilt’s hold on a large volume of fruit, which is an important cost-saving move, Pepperl said.

“It allows us to concentrate all our fruit within a tight proximity and hold our controlled atmosphere,” he said. “Now, 80% to 90% of our fruit is within 20 miles of the packing shed, as far as controlled atmosphere. We’ve done a lot in the last year to eliminate fuel and mileage.”

The Dovex acquisition, which ups Stemilt’s fruit volume by 11%, according to Pepperl, was announced in March. Dovex’s export operation was not part of the deal, Pepperl said.