Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

At Rice Fruit, optimism abounds for upcoming season

By
John Groh

As Rice Fruit prepares to begin its fall harvest season, it is focused on providing a good mix of premium apples that will have broad appeal to consumers.

“We are looking at our 2022 crop with promise and optimism,” said Brenda Briggs, vice president of sales and marketing for the Gardners, PA-based grower-shipper. “The growing season has been uneventful with adequate moisture and sunshine, and harvest timing is expected to be similar to last year.”

Briggs said Rice Fruit will come out of the gate the first or second week of August with Gala, followed by Honeycrisp and Ginger Gold.

“It is a clean crop and volume is expected to be slightly increased,” she said. “The recent warm summer weather will give the upcoming apple varieties their signature sweetness and flavor profile.”

Briggs said Rice Fruit concentrates on providing a wide range of offerings to meet the different flavor preferences of consumers, as each variety offers a unique eating experience that they will remember and look for when they next purchase apples.

“We have new plantings of Gala, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith and Pink Lady coming into production this season, which adds more availability to those choices,” she said. “And we plan to have increased volumes in varieties that are newer to our mix, like Ambrosia, SnapDragon and EverCrisp.”

As with virtually all companies involved in produce, Rice Fruit has encountered challenges with supply chain issues, but Rice has tried to be proactive when it comes to these challenges.

“Supply chain issues have been part of the planning for the last few seasons and will be again for this season,” said Briggs. “By planning and being flexible with solutions and maintaining regular communication with our partners and suppliers, we are ready to hit the ground running.”

Additionally, inflation and the rising cost of production has been an obstacle for grower-shippers this year, but Briggs said Rice is taking things in stride. “Our stance has been to make sure costs are covered for growers and us, but not push pricing beyond what is fair. Ultimately, we still want consumers to be able to afford and enjoy our premium Eastern apples.”

As far as spreading the good word about the premium apples Rice Fruit offers, Valerie Ramsburg, who works in marketing at the company, said social media has become an important tool to engage with consumers.

“We believe it is important to tell the story of where your food comes from and how it makes its way to your table,” she said.

Part of the strategy in doing that, said Ramsburg, is a “Behind the Scenes” feature Rice focused on this summer, which shows how the apples are picked, stored, sized and packaged.

“What’s great about a project like this is that it’s fun to make and then equally rewarding to hear when people say, ‘I had no idea that’s how it’s done!’” said Ramsburg. “If people are able to understand the steps and work behind getting food on their tables, it creates an understanding between the farmer and the consumer, and in doing this, we believe it encourages fresh produce consumption and a more locally driven produce purchase.”

Reflecting on Rice Fruit’s long history in the industry – this year it will celebrate its 110th year in business – Briggs said the company’s owners and team members are brimming with pride.

“We are exceptionally proud of our 110 years in business,” she said. “In the last decade, we have made improvements to almost every piece of our business. From our computer systems and sorting programs to our packingline and pre-sizing area, we have embraced technology to be successful in packing produce now and well into the future. We’re excited to see what’s possible in the next 10 years – and beyond.”

 

John Groh

John Groh

About John Groh  |  email

John Groh graduated from the University of San Diego in 1989 with a bachelors of arts degree in English. Following a brief stint as a sportswriter covering the New York Giants football team, he joined The Produce News in 1996 as an assistant editor and worked his way up the ranks, becoming publisher in 2006. He and his wife, Mary Anne, live in northern New Jersey in the suburbs of New York City.

 

Tagged in:

- Advertisement -

September 30, 2022

Jared Bray, recently hired as a sales professional is looking to lead the company into the organic avocado space.

As a veteran in the produce industry, Bray brings with him expertise in… Read More

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

September 30, 2022

Monterey Mushrooms has revealed the recent expansion of its executive team. As the company continues to grow, it has appointed Mike Stephan to senior director of business development, a role that… Read More