U.S.: Chelan Fresh, Borton Fruit merge to boost apple offering
Washington State-based pome fruit and cherry companies Chelan Fresh and Borton Fruit have announced they are merging their operations, in a development that will see the new group become a leading producer of Honeycrisp apples.
A release said Borton Fruit’s diverse production and innovative style joined the dynamic supplier base of Gebbers Farms, Crane & Crane and Chelan Fruit Cooperative in the marketing group.
The addition of Borton Fruit brings an immediate 47% volume expansion to Chelan Fresh’s sales and marketing portfolio, including organic offerings, early-season cherries, innovative plantings and new proprietary apple varieties
Together, the group has recently invested more than US$235 million in packing facilities and technologies, new storage facilities, and production efficiencies, the release said.
These investments, combined with more than 13,000 acres planted in young, high-density orchards with modern trellis systems, "will drive innovation on a large-scale."
The group will also become "an industry leading producer of Honeycrisp apples."
Chelan Fresh will market the majority of the new fruit under its Trout label, marking the brand's biggest expansion since it was first introduced in 1923.
“Customers want a one-stop-buying experience and shoppers want a wide selection of high-quality apples, pears and cherries all year-long,” Chelan Fresh CEO Tom Riggan said.
“With the increase in volume and varieties, we can support any size program twelve months out of the year.”
The combined marketing company will retain the Chelan Fresh name and operate from both Chelan and Yakima, Washington.
Although the venture will officially begin on Sept. 1, the sales and marketing teams are already working together.
“The next generation of our family is determined to be positioned as industry leaders in the market place for the future in the fruit business,” Borton Fruit CEO John Borton said.
“That means servicing retail accounts from a large volume base, from modern orchards, state-of-the art packing lines, and with exciting new varieties year-round. This partnership greatly enhances our ability to serve our customers.”