Starr Ranch Growers said they have experienced significant growth in their organic apple program. Import/Organic Category Manager Dan Davis, volume expansion came from both existing orchards and also the addition of 104-year-old Apple King, a Yakima Valley organic grower/packer, to its production. The upshot, Davis said, is that Starr Ranch Growers is packing more than 1.5 million cases of certified apples in 2018.
Davis noted that the category growth is “driven by varieties most in demand, and our organic manifest by order of volume is Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Granny Smith.” He added, “We’ve only transitioned our best blocks to organic production, and so our volume consists of the best varietal makeup of the most current strains.”
Davis continued, “We now have two dedicated organic packing lines packing daily, and the flexibility provided by the two lines will help us jump to any demand, whether be needing to cover different varieties at each house or combine efforts to hit promotional needs on the same variety.”
“Last year we introduced our oversize purple PLU for more transparency at the checkout stand, and our retail partners have all reported dramatic reductions in mis-rings,” Davis said. “This year our focus is on our more sustainable Starr Ranch Organics pouch bag.”
He said the new bags, a paper and plastic combination, use 25 percent less plastic than previously used bags. The older bags used heavier three-ply plastic to provide form, and the middle layer has been replaced with 100 percent recycled paper.
“So in essence it is a laminated paper layer that gives the bag its body, and that took a full quarter of the plastic out of the process,” Davis said. “We’ve gone out to find more sustainable options are really happy with the end result.”
The bag was put into distribution with this year’s organic apricot crop, Davis said.