New packaging tech for summer apple program

With the official start to summer nearing, Stemilt is kicking off its robust summer apple program with fresh room openings and utilizing the many benefits of its brand-new Greefa electronic apple sorting and packing line.

According to Stemilt marketing director Roger Pepperl, the apples reserved for Stemilt’s summer program are “the best of the best” because of their high qualities identified at harvest that enable them to be kept in long-term controlled atmosphere (C.A.) storage rooms throughout the year. Currently, Stemilt is opening fresh rooms weekly and packing apples on its state-of-the-art commit-to-pack line, which debuted in September and features one of the longest sizers in the world.

“Our new line is the length of a football field, and designed to gently size and sort apples with the use of optic sizing and defect sorting. It looks at the internal and external qualities of every apple through the use of high-definition cameras and computer software analyzes the photos to size and grade apples. The modern technology helps us deliver great flexibility to our customers and consistency in every pack,” said Pepperl.

“The addition of the new Greefa line joins our team’s commitment and heavy emphasis on managing our inventory through planning in order to realize tight inventory turns on all varieties. We work to continue to provide good service and availability to our customers, while maximizing fruit freshness because that’s what drives a great consumer experience and repeat apple purchases,” said Stemilt president West Mathison.

The new packing line is also useful in color sorting new, bi-colored apple varieties, like Pink Lady®, Gala, and Fuji, which have and will continue to be a big focus at Stemilt.

“Genetics are constantly changing and improving the qualities and flavors of apples, and Stemilt has stayed on the forefront of investing in new varieties and modern strains of existing varieties. We just wrapped up a great season on our signature apple variety, Pinata®, and look to continue supporting consumer demand for Gala, Pink Lady®, and Fuji apples this summer,” said Pepperl.

Aztec is a high-colored and high-flavored strain of Fuji that Stemilt is bringing out of fresh C.A. rooms weekly now and will continue to this summer. Fuji is a favorite variety of consumers and the premium sizes and flavor in this year’s crop will help it stand out on summer apple displays.

Stemilt is also a long-time leading shipper of Pink Lady® apples, which are the last variety to harvest in Washington State, and enjoying the best sizing, color, and qualities in years. Stemilt will pack Pink Lady apples fresh through the summer, along with the other popular tart apple variety, Granny Smith.

The leading apple variety in produce departments, Gala, is another apple that Stemilt continues to pull from new C.A. rooms weekly for pack-to-order freshness.

“Gala’s continue to enjoy a great season, and our longest storing fruit provides retailers with fresh fruit in a range of sizes,” said Pepperl.

Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apples round out Stemilt’s summer program and provide retailers with promotion opportunities to keep the important apple category trending upward.

“Apples contribute an impressive 4.6% of total produce department sales on average in the U.S. during the summer months (June through August),” said Pepperl. “That means it’s important to highlight apples during the summer months to not only maintain, but build upon sales. Jumbo Red Delicious offer one unique promotion vehicle during the summer to drive interest and sales of the great quality of all summer apples available,” Pepperl said.

New and modern varieties, a high-tech packing line, and a huge emphasis on pre-planning its inventory to meet the needs of its customer base and ensure freshness and flavor come first and foremost all combine to set Stemilt’s apple program apart throughout the seasons, including this coming summer.

For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com.

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