Stemilt’s packing line levels up to put freshness first into the apple mix
Stemilt is putting the “a” in apples this season with “a” strong mix of varieties, “a” new apple line extension and “a” passion for freshness. Stemilt facility manager in production, Don Reeves, shares a new extension will help improve the quality of bagged apples with a second automated defect sorter. Eager to share its abilities, Stemilt’s marketing director, Brianna Shales, encourages retailers to share Stemilt’s apple mix packed with care to delight consumers this apple season.
“We have a great crop of apples on our hands and the extension of the apple line is really going to help elevate quality for our apple mix,” said Reeves. “There’s been more demand from consumers for bagged fruit. We knew we needed more automation to pack bagged apples, so we’ve extended our primary apple line at Olds Station in Wenatchee by 10,000 square feet. The apples already go through one defect sorter on the main line, but we’ve added a second sorter that will enhance quality for apples going into bags.”
Along with quality, the addition of the line extension will help improve efficiency and accuracy operated by the same amount of people. Stemilt expects to see a 30 percent increase in its throughput. Employees who were once bagging apples by hand now operate the automated bagging machines.
“Efficiency is always important at Stemilt, but it’s key to our success during a larger volume apple crop,” said Reeves. “The line extension will help us deliver consistent and high-quality apples in packaging that makes apple sales convenient for retailers and shoppers.”
Stemilt’s new crop of apples consists of consumer favorites including Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Granny Smith. Volume is ticking up for all apples including new club varieties like Cosmic Crisp and SweeTango. Cosmic Crisp and SweeTango specifically are growing in organic volume which presents opportunity for retailers to share it with the organic consumer who’s looking to try something new. With a range of sizing available, Stemilt is excited to help retailers plan big Lil Snappers promotions on kid-size fruit in three-pound pouch bags and bring value to the category through five-pound Apple Lovers packs.
“Mother Nature was good to us during the growing season which means there’s an abundance of opportunities for retailers to share quality, fresh crop apples with consumers,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt marketing director. “Promotions are a great way to highlight Stemilt’s apple mix and bring up-and-coming varieties like SweeTango and Cosmic Crisp or longtime brands like Lil Snappers to consumers attention. Now is the perfect time to show apples off because we’re taking apple quality and flavor to the next level with our packing capabilities.”