Arctic Apple expanding with new central Washington facility
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, developers of Arctic apples, acquired 42.5 acres of land in Moses Lake, WA. OSF’s parent parent company, Third Security LLC is developing the property, located within the Moses Lake Commerce Center. The new plot will be home the future home to OSF’s state-of-the-art processing facility, centralizing the company’s operational footprint for receiving, storage, processing, packing and shipping Arctic apple products.
“We have over 1,250 acres of Arctic apple trees currently planted in Washington state, and harvest yields are ramping up quickly as our orchards come into full bearing,” said Neal Carter, president of OSF. “With our continued growth, it makes sense to have a facility closer to our orchards so we can optimize efficiencies, quality and minimize transportation. We can focus on ramping up our production capabilities and delivering superior quality product to our customers.”
OSF had been utilizing processing facilities in Caldwell, ID, for Arctic apples. The move to central Washington will save more than 5.5 hours and 300 miles of transport costs.
Breaking ground this past September, OSF is planning to complete phase one in spring 2023. The initial phase will bring online OSF’s receiving, shipping, slicing and all-in-time processing capabilities. Rebecca Catlett, director of marketing, said, “Our first priority is providing our customers product without interruption.”
Phase two is scheduled to be complete in mid-2023 and will bring online pre-grading and sorting capabilities before the apples go into processing. Regarding the timing, Catlett said, “It will be here before we know it!”
The new facility will have an operational footprint of over 100,000 square feet and will initially allow OSF to increase production capacity three times. “We are also in the planning phase of building a controlled-atmosphere facility on the campus,” said Catlett, with more details on the CA building to come at a later date.
This new facility is a substantial investment for the company, with both Carter and Catlett using the term “milestone.” Catlett elaborated, “This expansion further demonstrates the success and acceptance of Arctic apples.”
Arctic apples have seen great success with its K-12 programs, and OSF plans to continue building upon the momentum that comes with trusted partnerships. As for retail, Catlett said, “right now it’s all about having great conversations,” noting a common initial hurdle of bringing in a GMO produce item with some retailers. Catlett said, “GMO labeling is very common now, and we’re seeing a significant movement toward acceptance once retailers hear about the simple science behind Arctic apples.”
Arctic apples will continue to engage the foodservice industry, with conversations being had with chefs about using Arctic apples as a key ingredient in salad kits and dishes. Catlett said, “We’ve really been out there this past year, talking to a lot of those folks –– we’re excited to keep that going.”
Moreover, OSF is excited to share its success with the Moses Lake community. Catlett explained, “We estimate that we will employ approximately 90 employees this year, and of course that number will increase over time as we look at our expected growth projection.” With the new facility, comes highly automated equipment requiring skilled operators. “This was another reason we chose Moses Lake, as the community has a long history of value-added food processing and has the people needed to operate such a facility successfully,” said Catlett.
Arctic apple launched in 2018 with its initial harvest. Catlett said, “while that year was all about getting our feet under us, since then we’ve had great acceptance of Arctic apples –– the growth has been phenomenal.”