On Dec. 17, Fred Hess, co-owner of Hess Bros. Fruit Co. in Lancaster, PA, told The Produce News that the company’s crop condition at the current time was basically where he expected it to be.
“We still have quite a lot of fruit to get through,” said Hess. “We will pack all through the summer, which is exactly what we like to do. We’ll be packing this crop right up until we start harvesting the next one.”
He noted that the company will run out of the Gala variety by the end of February because the variety is so highly demanded. It finished its Honeycrisp supplies during the second week of December. The company ships the apple fresh rather than storing it for later shipment.
“It’s a wonderful apple, but it doesn’t store well,” said Hess. “However, there are a lot of people working on this issue, and every year we’re getting better at storing them. Eventually we think the kinks will be worked out and it will develop into a variety that does store well and so will be available longer into the season.”
This season’s crop at Hess Bros. Fruit Co. is about 20 percent larger than its comparative 10-year average. This is due to good growing conditions and an abundance of fruit on the trees this year.
Hess said that everyone always hopes that prices will firm up, but supply and demand continues to control the market.
“My understanding is that Washington state is now firming up pricing, and as always, all other apple growing regions will follow that model,” he said. “We do have high expectations.”
Hess Bros. Fruit Co. is an active participant in many reputable trade organizations devoted to the fruit industry. A few mentionable ones include the U.S. Apple Association, U.S. Apple Export Council and National Apple Month.
These associations and organizations focus their efforts on the marketing and promotion of apples and represent the industry on national issues and matters pertaining to the apple industry, as well as consumer education and nutritional research.
In January 2013, Hess announced that his brother, Jerry Hess, who was previously his partner in the business, had retired. Upon his retirement the company reorganized, Fred Hess took on three new partners who are all family members. The three also all represent the third generation of Hess family members to operate the business.
“Jerry’s son, Ryan Hess; another nephew, Andy Figart, and Jerry’s son-in-law, Zack King, have joined me in ownership and management of the company,” Hess told The Produce News last January. “They have all worked for the firm for some time.”
The reorganization and new partnership was made official in early December 2012. Ryan Hess is in charge of fruit procurement and grower relations. Figart oversees sales and marketing and King manages human resources and is the assistant plant manager.
“Things are working out very well under our new reorganization,” said Hess. “We’re still firming up our strategies for the future, and this new and younger generation is bringing some strong and beneficial ideas to our company.”