Rice Fruit’s apple trees have very deep family roots

by Christina DiMartino | October 17, 2019

At over 100 years since its beginning in its current company structure, Rice Fruit Co. in Gardners, PA, receives, stores, packages and markets fruit for more than 40 farm families in the surrounding areas.

Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brenda Briggs, said the company is excited about the 2019 PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, Oct.17-19.

RICEHarvest-2019-1431 “Rice Fruit will be at Booth No. 749,” said Briggs. “Joining me in greeting and meeting with current and prospective clients will be President Ben Rice and Sales Associates Jill Hughey and Maggie Travis.

“We will be showcasing our new Rice Fruit Co. Honeycrisp Traypack box and updated pouch designs, in addition to our new tote bag,” she continued. “The tote features a pop of our branding on a clear tote for maximum fruit visibility.”

Located in the picturesque foothills of rural Adams County in the heart of Pennsylvania’s apple country, Rice Fruit Co. is a family run business which was founded by Arthur Rice in 1913. However, the Rice family has been growing apples in Adams County since Daniel Rice arrived as a young German immigrant in the 1790s.

Like other small farmers in the area, Daniel Rice and his descendants grow apple trees in the scenic foothills of the South Mountain; the eastern-most region of the Appalachians. This region has ideal soils and topography that forms effective micro-climates for growing many kinds of fruit.

With these valuable qualities, a commercial fruit growing industry began to develop in the 1900s. Throughout the several decades since its founding, Rice Fruit shipped apples worldwide.

In 1955, Arthur Rice, Jr. built a new packing facility in Gardners, which remains the site of its operations today. He also formed a partnership with William Lott to form R&L Orchards Co. to grow high-quality fruit to be packed by Rice Fruit. The partnership between the Rice and Lott families continues to this day.

Until recently, Rice Fruit Co. was managed by Arthur Jr’s four sons; David, Ted; John and; Mark. Today, Rice’s strong management team includes members of the next generation.

In 2017, Briggs took over leadership of Rice Fruit’s sales department from John Rice who has embraced a fruitful retirement.

The company continually upgrades its operation in its orchards as well as in its facilities.

Briggs said the company recently added three robotic palletizing systems to improve worker safety and guarantee gentle handling of the company’s fruit.

“We are so excited about our three new palletizing robots that we added viewing windows through which employees and visitors can watch the stacking action,” she explained.

“The installation of these robots has been directed by Danijel Lolic, who was recently promoted to vice president of operations.


Students gain real world experience thanks to L&M internships
The future of the produce industry will depend largely on new people being introduced to the field, which is why L&M Cos. offers internships based on seasonal needs throughout the L&M farms, warehouses and sales teams. “Intern programs in fresh produce are great exposure for young people to be a part of a vital industry,” Read More ...
New Whole Foods Market features 75 local growers
Whole Foods Market recently opened a new 35,000-square-foot store in East Austin, TX. Special features of the new East Austin store include: Produce department offering a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including selections from about 75 local growers throughout the year including fresh flowers, peaches and Read More ...
Retailer announces plans to rebuild
CUB and its franchise partner Jerry’s Foods announced its commitment to the Minneapolis community to rebuild its Broadway Avenue and Lake Street stores, both of which are owned by Jerry’s Foods. CUB also announced that while those two locations remain closed, CUB plans to open temporary community stores at each location to Read More ...
Sun World takes firm stance on IP rights breach
California-based variety development and licensing company Sun World International LLC has reached settlement of a dispute with a prominent Australian table grape producer (and associated entities) within the Sunraysia region. This follows breaches of Sun World’s intellectual property and contractual rights discovered Read More ...
Fall Creek names regional director for Mexico
Fall Creek Farm & Nursery Inc., a global blueberry breeding and nursery company, has announced that Alberto Medina-Mora has joined the company as regional director for Mexico. Most recently, Medina-Mora served as senior director of development and innovation at NatureSweet Mexico, a vertically integrated tomato grower, Read More ...