West, Kyle and Tate Mathison continue the legacy of organic growing with more varieties at Stemilt Growers. ( Courtesy Stemilt Growers )

 

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers celebrates its 30th year growing organic apples, pears, cherries and other fruit.

Founder Tom Mathison launched the company’s Responsible Choice program in 1989, a commitment to sustainable agriculture and social responsibility, according to a news release.

“Back in 1989, Tom Mathison and Kyle Mathison recognized a distrust between the consumer and the food they were purchasing,” Stemilt marketing director Roger Pepperl said in the release. “Tom not only saw a problem with this but knew it had to be fixed. He realized the power of organics and the market was about to brink onto something big.”

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Late founder Tom Mathison founded the company in 1964. Courtesy Stemilt Growers.

To address consumer concerns, Tom Mathison wanted to provide answers to questions like where food was grown, how it was grown and who was growing it, according to the release.

When Tom Mathison first began growing organics, he laid out the foundation for classic apple varieties, like golden delicious, red delicious and granny smith. 

Today, Mathison’s grandsons, West and Tate Mathison, have evolved Stemilt’s organic brand, Artisan Organics, into a program offering more varieties that consumers seek, such as Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Pinata, Rave and SweeTango.

According to March 2019 retail scan data from Nielsen, organics comprised 9% of total apple volumes sold on average in the U.S. with a $2.19 average retail price per pound. Retailers can look to organic fuji and gala to lead the way, along with smaller sizes of organic Pink Lady apples, Pepperl said in the release.

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