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Starr Ranch Growers’ Dalton Thomas given inaugural Impact Award from Asiafruit Congress

Dalton Thomas, who retired from his position as president of Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers in 2017 after 52 years in the fruit business, was the recipient of Asiafruit Congress’ first-ever Impact Award for “pioneering contribution to developing Washington/U.S. fresh fruit exports to Asia” at a Sept. 4 ceremony in Hong Kong.

Hosted by the Asiafruit Congress, the event honored four recipients: the Chilean Cherry Committee/ASOEX, Indian importer IG International, Indonesian retailer Ranch Market and Thomas.daltonthomasimpact-awardThe Impact Award was presented to Dalton Thomas, center, by Chris White, managing director of Fruitnet Media International, and Wilfried Wollbold, commercial director of Asia Fruit Logistica, organizer of Global Produce Events.

Thomas commented, “After 54 years in the fruit business, it’s nice to be recognized as a leader in expanding the Asian market.”

The award noted that Oneonta won the first bid from the Central Trust of China to provide apples to Taiwan in 1972. Some 100,000 cartons per year for six years were shipped by Oneonta to Taiwan, representing not only the first Washington apples to go to that destination but also the creation of the “Asian pipeline” as it is known now.

Thomas said that by establishing an Indonesia market as well, the effort “helped to open the door to Washington suppliers in many of these markets.”

After presentation of trophies and certificates by Wilfried Wollbold, commercial director of Asia Fruit Logistica and organizer Global Produce Events, along with Chris White, managing director of Fruitnet Media International, publishing company for Asiafruit Magazine and organizer of the Asiafruit Congress, Starr Ranch CEO Brett Reasor commented, “It is a great tribute to the hard work and passion that Dalton has for Oneonta and the entire apple, cherry and pear industry. Dalton has paved a road in Asia that has helped the entire state of Washington grow business.”

Scott Marboe, Starr Ranch director of marketing, said, “We are so touched to see Dalton acknowledged for his great efforts and long-term commitment to helping grow the Asian marketplace for all Northwest growers.”

The singularity of the Impact Award marks the second such distinction for Oneonta Starr Ranch, which in 2006 received the World Trade Club’s 2006 Governor’s Trader of the Year Award. That award is given annually to companies that excel in market development and innovation, contributing to Washington state’s economic growth and to the growth of their individual communities. Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers was lauded for being among the first exporters of Washington apples and cherries.