Vanguard International’s Pride Packing Company has joined forces with Yakima, Wash.-based Sage Fruit Company. ( Vanguard )

Vanguard International’s Pride Packing Company has joined forces with Yakima, Wash.-based Sage Fruit Company.

“We are very happy to join Sage as an equity partner and to continue our working relationship with this industry leader to market and sell the fruit we grow and pack in Washington,” Craig Stauffer, CEO of Issaquah, Wash.-based Vanguard International, said in a news release. “We look forward to working closely with the Sage team and its members to deliver high-quality, great-tasting fruit to customers worldwide.”

Sage Fruit will handle Pride Packing Company’s domestic sales of Washington state apples, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines, according to the release.

Pride Packing, acquired by the Vanguard International Group in May 2017, is a vertically-integrated 3,000-acre farming operation, running its own packing and cold storage facilities.

“We’re extremely proud of the success and development that has been created at Vanguard Pride and we look forward to further expanding our growth with the Sage marketing and sales organization,” Brett Calhoun, general manager and vice president of Washington Farming Operations for Vanguard Pride Packing Co., said in the release.

Founded in 1999, Sage Fruit is a growing, marketing, and sales organization made up of four family businesses from Central Washington (Valley Fruit, Valicoff Fruit, Olympic Fruit and Larson Fruit), according to the release. In 2015, Valley Fruit and Larson Fruit combined their packing operations and formed Legacy Fruit Packers (Wapato), now operating a state-of-the art packing, storage, and shipping facility, according to the release.

The release said each of Sage Fruit’s vertically integrated members is adding acreage to already well-established farms and also is replanting current acreage with high-density, new-variety trees.

“We are excited by the addition of Vanguard Pride to the Sage Fruit Family,” Steve Clement, general manager of Sage Fruit Company, said in the release. “The addition of such a high quality growing and packing operation to Sage is an important step in our overall growth strategy and will enhance our ability to supply our customers with the best tasting, highest quality tree fruit Washington State has to offer.”