Rainier sees solid blueberry crop ahead
The family-owned and operated farms that sell fruit under Rainier Fruit Co.’s label have been honing its craft for generations. The Selah, WA-based company is a leader in blueberries and runs a 100 percent organic blueberry operation.
“Organic blueberries are a true product of Rainier innovation,” said Tyler Johnson, Rainier Fruit’s blueberry commodity manager. “They’re not traditionally grown east of the Cascades; Rainier blazed the path in growing here in the Washington desert. They represent the innovation and tenacity that this company has always held at its core.”
Success in the category starts with the ground.
“Without a good product, you have no legs to stand on,” Johnson said. “There’s huge pride in how we grow our blueberries, and they are simply delicious. It just takes hard work and a true appreciation of the product to be a success, and I think we excel at both.”
Like most companies, Rainier Fruit had to make some changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its strategy for 2021 was somewhat based on what the industry experienced over the last 15 months.
“COVID-19 got us all thinking about our health in a new light,” Johnson said. “Berries are known for their fantastic health benefits, and blueberries specifically for their antioxidants and have become known for their super food qualities. I am excited to see blueberries, and especially organic blueberries, finally getting the recognition they deserve for their multitudes of health properties.”
During the pandemic, shoppers were purchasing bigger packs across the board, and that includes blueberries.
“There is huge opportunity to push 18-ounce and 2-pound containers at the retail level,” Johnson said. “Consumers are still taking less trips to the store with bigger basket spends and larger packs are being rung in.”
As of mid-June, the upcoming blueberry crop appeared to be in good shape.
“It’s looking like a solid crop out there; each year is its own unique experience and it’s so hard to compare each year’s experience to the others,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a great summer and we are looking forward to promotable volumes of organic blueberries.”
Having a 100 percent organic blueberry program sets Rainier apart from the others who operate in the segment.
“In addition, all our blueberries are grown by one grower here in the desert of Washington State,” Johnson said. “To top it all off, we have availability all summer long. Our innovation hasn’t stopped, we have a continued to look at growing blueberries with curiosity by testing new varieties, always on a mission to find the next best berry.”