Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of FirstFruits Marketing, Yakima, Wash., said the company accounts for about 8% of the fresh-pack apple industry.
This year, Mathews said the company expects to market about 1.4 million cartons of organic apples, up from 900,000 cartons in 2009-10.
The company will exclusively market about 50,000 cartons of conventional Opal variety fruit, along with 10,000 cartons of organic Opal.
The company will use the databar on 100% of its bulk fruit this year, he said. Mathews said the databar, resembling a two-level bar code, should help cashiers properly scan apples, and will also include the PLU number for reference.
Scott Hanses, vice president of C.M. Holtzinger Fruit Co. LLC, Yakima, Wash., said the company has revamped cold storage and packing space to create better inventory turns.
Overall, Hanses said the firm expects to increase fresh apple volume by 10% to 15%.
The company expects organic fruit to account for about 8% of the firm’s total volume, which he said was about double compared to 2009.
In total, the company expects to market about 2.5 million cartons, he said.
Suzanne Wolter, marketing director for Rainier Fruit Co., said the Selah, Wash.-based company has a distribution center that facilitates cross-docking and consolidation of loads for the firm’s five warehouses.
Rainier plans up to 60% growth on the company’s Lady Alice variety, boosting volume with existing customers and finding new distribution.
The Lady Alice features several merchandising options for retailers, including a 7- by 11-inch display card in each box shipped.
Steve Clement, general manger with Sage Fruit LLC, Yakima, Wash., said he expects the company will show a 10% increase in volume this year.
The limited volume Sonya apple has found great acceptance at retail, and Sage will feature volume of about 100,000 cartons in 2010, he said.
The company is continuing its promotional ties with NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.
Sage features Kahne’s likeness on bags in target market areas where the racer is competing throughout the marketing season.
Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, Wash., will probably market about 12 million cartons of apples in 2010, up to 12% of Washington’s fresh apple crop, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director.
The company also will roll out poly bags with social media messages on them, Pepperl said. He said the bags will feature the company’s website, its Facebook identity and its Responsible Choice program.
“The whole idea is to bring the farm closer to the consumer,” said Brianna Brue, Stemilt’s communications specialist.
One of the features of the marketing campaign is the ability for shoppers to use their cell phones to text a message to to receive information about varietal availability in the shopper’s store locations.
Stemilt’s March acquisition of Dovex Fruit Co., Wenatchee, also should provide the company with new efficiencies.
“Eighty-five percent of the fruit is held in controlled-atmosphere storages within 10 miles of the packing plant,” Pepperl said.
By National Editor Tom Karst