(July 14) YAKIMA, Wash. — A major player in Washington’s tree-fruit business is branching out into organics.

Yakima-based Snokist Growers and San Francisco-based Pac Organic Fruit Co./Pacific Organic Produce have agreed to a cooperative packing and marketing effort on organic apples, pears and cherries.

Through the deal, Pacific Organic Produce, which also has facilities in George and Peshastin, Wash., will have a Yakima-based staging area and additional packing capacities that the company says will enhance its ability to service its organic customers.

“We were looking for the right connection, and this really helps us with logistics,” said Greg Holzman, president of Pacific Organic Produce. “It’s a key position for us. For us to ship out of Yakima, it allows us to pack products from the Hood River area.”

Pacific Organic Produce bills itself as the largest organic tree fruit marketer in the U.S.

“With this alliance with Snokist, Pacific Organic Produce now has more of all the right tools to get the job done for both their customers and grower base, offering the variety and flexibility it takes to fill the demands of the organic marketplace,” Harold Ostenson, director of the company’s organic program, said in a news release.

Pacific Organic, which also handles organic avocados and citrus, also has an agreement with Peshastin Hi-Up Growers Inc., a cooperative that specializes in pears.

For Snokist, a 100-year-old grower cooperative, the deal is the latest in what is becoming a busy summer of deal making. In early June, the co-op announced that it had formed a business and product alliance with Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos., a 30-year-old diversified produce marketing company that has focused on domestic vegetable sales from the Southeastern U.S.

Peshastin has a similar agreement with L&M.