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Based in the south-central Pennsylvania region of Gardners, Rice Fruit Co. is tackling projects, planning for new initiatives and reaching out across North America to offer more to customers. 

“We’ve added a robotic palletizing system to improve worker safety and guarantee gentle handling of our fruit,” said Brenda Briggs, Rice Fruit Co. vice president of marketing and sales. 

Other labor-related improvements include a redesign of the break area for line employees, more natural light in the work areas and replacement of light fixtures with LED bulbs, which conserve energy.

After taking a breath from the solar array project completed last year, next on the conservation horizon are innovative water treatment and technology solutions that will allow Rice Fruit Co. to continuously recirculate, treat and reuse its water, thereby drawing less fresh water and further reducing its carbon footprint, Briggs said.

“With the technologies we are currently pursuing, we expect to see a 40% reduction in our water consumption,” she said.

This will be the company’s second year building the Ocean Crisp Apple Co. brand of Honeycrisp grown in Nova Scotia, Canada, extending Rice’s Honeycrisp season into the spring, Briggs said.