view current print edition




Rainier focuses on year-round planning with retail partners

Andy Tudor, vice president of business development at Rainier Fruit Co. in Yakima, WA, recently noted a consistency in market and demand for apples this season as traditional varieties sell well and newer varieties continually gain in popularity.

In perspective, he said, “Our focus is always on moving the entire manifest,” and he continued, “The challenge with this year’s crop is smaller fruit size and trying to get retailers to move to the heart of the manifest. Retailers are already battling deflation, and smaller fruit size rings less pounds.”

Tudor explained that year-round planning with our retail partners is “even more important to create optimum value and return for everyone in the supply chain, especially as more new varieties continue to enter the marketplace.”

2lb-Org-WTC-Fuji-pouchv2Organic Fuji apples from Rainier Fruit Co.And, “that being said, traditional varieties like Gala, Granny and Fuji continue to sell well, but we consistently see our rising stars like our proprietary Lady Alice® variety, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp do well and the expansion of our Pacific Series that includes Envy, Jazz and Pacific Rose.”

Smaller fruit in 2017 has worked well for the consumer pouch bag promotions. Tudor said, “The pouch bags continue to have success in the marketplace, and the ease of handling and high graphics make them great for merchandising. All varieties, from traditional value sellers to specialty varieties, do well in the pouch bag. Fruit sizing on Gala, Granny and Pink Lady play right into consumer packs this year. Two-pound organic pouch bags can have an attractive price point to trade consumers up into the category.”

Organics “continues to be one of the brightest spots of the produce and apple category, showing regular year-to-year growth,” he said. “Organic has been a priority in our business for nearly two decades, and we have been steadily increasing our acreage on a yearly basis. For the 2017 crop we have additional increases in Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith apples again this year.”

Washington state, he said, “estimates that the total organic crop volume is up 20 percent across the state, continuing to reflect growing demand in this area.

Rainier offers “a comprehensive organic program that includes all top performing varieties, as well as our proprietary Lady Alice. Our organic farms stretch from Oregon to near the Canadian border, which allows us to pack organic Gala, Fuji and Honeycrisp full season-to-season.”

Rainier has added packing capabilities for pouch bags on both organic and conventional lines, and it has upgraded its sorters for enhanced sizing and defect sorting, Tudor said. And in the orchards, “Our growers continue to renew and expand plantings of varieties like Honeycrisp, Jazz, Envy and Cosmic Crisp.”

In its promotions and outreach, Rainier is known for its “Wholesome to the Core” program, which reflects not only fruit but also the basic philosophy of the multi-generational company. Tudor said, “People are the core of every business and every transaction. Businesses that understand the human connection make greater impacts not just in the bottom line, but in every aspect of the buy-sell relationship. The culture at Rainier isn’t the words on paper, ‘Wholesome to the Core.’ It’s the knowledge that every employee is empowered to do the right thing, and that is what makes our fruit and our business shine.”

He continued, “This culture of excellence shines through in actions at work, in their communities and in their homes and it also aligns us with customers and consumers who share like values. We believe the ‘pay it forward idea’ that inspires others is truly what grows healthy communities, healthy businesses and healthy families.”

And in 2018, he said, “You can expect that we will continue to partner with health and lifestyle events throughout the country where we can connect with consumers that are looking to improve their overall health and wellness. Stay tuned in 2018 for a big partnership announcement.”