Rainier Fruit Company’s Blake Belknap Details Organic Apple Program Differentiation

From And Now u Know | 7 February 2023

Overview of organic apples in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on February 3, 2023. 

SELAH, WA – Year-round supply is an undeniable advantage, especially when that supply is backed by a team known for excellence. I’m speaking of Rainier Fruit Company, whose very own Blake Belknap shared with me the ins and outs of the supplier’s well-rounded portfolio.

“Rainier Fruit has a long history of growing organics, and we’ve carried the best Washington-grown organic apples year-round since 2017,” the Vice President of Sales shared with me. “Core items like organic Gala, organic Fuji, and organic Honeycrisp have been a part of our summer-fall mix for five years now, and we continue to increase our supplies of popular organic varietals like Envy™, Cosmic Crisp®, and Lady Alice®.”

apple volumes by history

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

In order to accomplish that kind of supply window, Rainier Fruit has a powerful asset on its side.

“There is a diverse set of microclimates where we grow our fruit; in orchards stretching from northern Oregon up into Okanagan in northern Washington near the Canadian border. Even in seasons that see harsh wide-spread weather events, it’s nearly impossible for all our ground to be impacted to the same degree,” Blake noted.

On top of the natural advantage the company enjoys by farming across a wide swath of the Pacific Northwest, there is the less-tangible benefit of the culture that’s grown up at Rainier over five generations.

“We take a holistic approach to farming: from dirt, to root-stock, to variety choice, the structure of trellising and netting, it all comes down to the finest details,” Blake explained. “It takes careful thought and years of labor to produce the apples we harvest every fall, so it’s absolutely critical to grow more of the flavors that people want to buy at retail. We invest hundreds of hours every year studying the market and partnering with our retail customers to sell fruit at store level, and then bring those learnings back to our farms to fuel decisions for future replantings.”

As Blake told me, there’s hard work involved in offering a year-round domestic supply, but it’s the right thing to do.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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