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Honeybear Brands wows with Washington apple crop

It’s been a “really good” growing season for Elgin, MN-based Honeybear Brand’s Washington apple crop.

“We have a big crop coming out of Washington this year,” said Don Roper, vice president of sales and marketing for the company. “The crop for Washington state is up 16-18 percent.” Roper added that overall production volumes will be up 40 percent due to increased crop yield and the addition of a few new key growers.

Roper said Honeybear continues to focus on its premium varietal lineup of Honeycrisp, Pazazz, Gala and Fujis.

“We don’t grow the most on any of these in Washington, we just focus on growing the best,” he said.

Honeybear-Logo-copy Roper also noted that Pazazz production will start to approach 250,000 cases out of Washington state, adding that the company will have another 200,000 cases coming from its Midwest, New York and Nova Scotia orchards.

“Honeybear is also seeing a large increase in organic production with a complete organic line that is anchored by our organic Honeycrisp,” Roper added. The company will be featuring its new HoneyCubbies two-pound organic pouch bag at the upcoming PMA Fresh Summit expo, Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, CA.

The company continues to work on its varietal development as well with an extensive line of test varieties in its program, including Pazazz, Riverbell and First Kiss. It also has two to three other varieties currently in the works and close to being introduced, according to Roper.

“We are excited about our commercialization efforts of First Kiss here in the Midwest and a brand new proprietary variety, HB102, which is a clean, pretty skin, creamy butter yellow in appearance with a sensational tropical taste and a hint of nuttiness,” Roper described. “Combined with exceptional pressure and storage characteristics, this has become one of our most exciting apples in our R&D pipeline.”

As if that’s not enough to get excited about, Honeybear also recently announced the addition of John Sather Family Orchards to its team of growers, as well as Craig Arneson as the new business development director for the company.

“John and his family farm over 1,000 acres and are focused on growing premium apple and cherry varieties,” Roper said. “Their orchards sit right above Lake Chelan in north central Washington, which year in and year out produces some of the best fruit in the world. With a strong focus on growing premium products, they are a perfect fit into Honeybear’s family of growers.”

Arneson brings more than two decades of experience and proven success in the produce industry to Honeybear Brands, most recently working for C.H. Robinson and Target Corp.

“Craig is an important addition to our evolving leadership team,” said Roper. “We’ve seen exponential growth over the past few years thanks to premium produce introductions such as Pazazz from our varietal development program, but also as part of year-over-year growth from our retail partnerships. Craig will help strengthen those relationships and grow our business offerings and opportunities across North America.”