Starr Ranch seeing great response to Juici and Koru varieties

Starr Ranch Growers is rooted in the traditions that the late Paul “Tommy” Thomas began back in 1934, when he founded the company in the heart of Washington’s apple country.

“We’ve got a long history in the apple industry that has evolved over the years from a trading company initially to a vertically integrated apple, pear and cherry marketer,” said Dan Davis, director of business development for the Wenatchee, WA-based company. “The last two decades have seen great growth in our ability to service all retail channels while still having a heavy expert presence around the world.”

Today. Starr Ranch Growers is a year-round shipper, and servicing retail partners is at the core of what the company does.

IMG 0126 “We’re heavily concentrated on Honeycrisp and organics and offer a full manifest of all varieties,” Davis said. “Overall, we represent 18 million boxes to our trade partners annually, and we continue to see growth.”

The keys to the company’s success comes down to a combination of strict attention to detail and providing solid quality, which has been a focus for both its trade partners and grower base.

“This year there is a large volume crop in Washington and we’ve been pushing to ramp up promotion harder than usual,” Davis said. “We’re pressing to get people eating apples and getting them back in often, promoting quality fruit is the key.”

For the 2019 winter apple season, Davis describes the crop as having an “outstanding eating quality” and predicts the consumer will have a great eating experience—especially with the company’s newer proprietary varieties, Juici™ and Koru®, which have already had excellent responses from consumers.

“We’re excited about our proprietary varieties and some of our new sustainable packaging endeavors,” Davis said. “We’ve got new packaging options in production that our marketing and production teams have worked on together that are going to allow us to present some great fixed weight options to the consumer without adding any single use plastic to the landfill.”

Starr Ranch Growers continues to stay abreast of the latest tech in the industry to stay on top, and Davis noted there is a constant advancement on the growing side.

“We’re still at the forefront of automating in the field to insulate us from labor shortages,” he said. “One of the key focuses going forward is our input costs and how quickly they are trending up without the price of fruit following. We have to get lean in the coming years and provide better quality to ensure top dollar to the orchards.”

Like many, labor, or often lack of labor, is the largest challenge the company faces. To overcome this, Starr Ranch Growers are evaluating automation and changing planting systems to make them more agreeable to mechanization.

“We’ve got big infrastructure plans in one of our plans and we’re investing heavily in the future to bring the best products to the consumer in 2020 and beyond,” Davis said.

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