Fresh-cut apple company Crunch Pak is taking over Stemilt Growers Inc.’s sliced apple business, discontinuing Stemilt’s AppleSweets product line.

By mid-July, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt's AppleSweets line will be taken over by Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak.

Crunch Pak acquires Stemilt's fresh-cut

Courtesy Crunch Pak

Effective mid-July Crunch Pak will begin leasing Stemilt Growers Inc.'s fresh-cut apple processing facility to produce its own sliced apples. Stemilt's 2007-launched AppleSweets line will cease to exist at that time.

Stemilt is leasing its sliced apple facility in Wenatchee to Crunch Pak which is transitioning current AppleSweets customers to Crunch Pak products. Stemilt’s flavored AppleSweets will no longer be available.

“We just pushed our business into theirs, including our retailers and supplier agreements,” said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt.

Tony Freytag, marketing director for Crunch Pak, said June 24 the company will be meeting with Stemilt’s sliced-apple customers to discuss new agreements.

“They’ve contacted their customers, and our sales people in the field are contacting the same customers,” Freytag said. “Our job is to go in there and make the sale with Stemilt supporting the transition.”

Stemilt’s March acquisition of Dovex Fruit Co., Wenatchee, set the company up for the opportunity to divest its fresh-cut program.

“Dovex was a large supplier of fresh product to Crunch Pak,” Pepperl said. “We’re now in that position to be a large supplier of fresh raw product to Crunch Pak, and with that it made sense to consolidate the slicing business itself.”

Making itself a larger supplier of raw product allows Stemilt to provide better returns for its growers, Pepperl said.

The transition becomes effective mid-July, when the last AppleSweets products should pass through the supply chain. Crunch Pak does not plan to continue producing Stemilt’s berry, caramel or apple pie-flavored AppleSweets products.

“The flavors are discontinued now while we do some research,” Freytag said. "For the foreseeable future."

Stemilt launched its AppleSweets line in 2007.

Crunch Pak, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, has seen more than 20% sales growth so far in 2010. Freytag said the supply from Stemilt will help the company meet growing demand, especially for organic sliced apples.

“We’ve seen a nice growth pattern really over the last couple years,” Freytag said. “Over the last 10 years we’ve shipped more than five billion slices.”

The company’s products, including Disney Garden sliced apples and Crunch Pak Organics, are available in more than 10,000 stores in the U.S. It is also the processor of BK Apple Fries for retail.