Rainier Fruit Company’s environmentally forward winter apples

From The Produce News | 12 January 2022

Overview of winter apples in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on January 09, 2022. 

“We are always excited for this time of year; winter brings so many possibilities with apple promotions at retail,” said Blake Belknap, vice president of sales at Rainier Fruit. Rainier, based in Selah, WA, which is known for leveraging its extensive experience in organic fruit production and environmental best-practices.

Specific to the season, “bulk Pink Lady presents many promotional opportunities throughout the winter months,” said Belknap. “January brings health month, and the versatile apple can do anything — from snacking to experimenting with healthy baking. In February, Pink Lady makes the perfect Valentine’s Day pairing to celebrate the holiday.”

As for winter apples, Rainier has all the staples, and offers a dynamic portfolio of club varieties, notably Envy, Jazz, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, and its proprietary variety, the Lady Alice.

Pink Lady apple in the US Market | Price reported (USD)
chart 13

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Lady Alice has its own fun history, discovered as a chance seedling in 1978, it came to market in 2010. “Lady Alice is always a fan-favorite and is having another great year,” Belknap said.

Lady Alice is known as a stunning apple with vibrant red color, notably rounded shape, and a unique sweet and slightly acidic flavor profile. “The perfectly balanced apple is gaining even more dedicated followers since finding its way into more markets,” said Belknap, adding that retailers can offer this dessert quality apple, now through the springtime.

“There’s a renewed interest in organics every winter after the holidays pass and we refocus on health,” said Belknap. With an expressed mission to grow the highest-quality organics on the market, “​​growing organically at Rainier started as a desire to treat land with the care it deserves and has evolved into a robust program” Belknap added.

Rainier emphasized its role as a steward of the land. The relationship isn’t transactional, its orchards work with nature. The company is proud of its pollinator initiatives, developed to attract pollinators to enhance orchard health and ecosystem. Rainier has planted wildflowers habitat to border its orchards, all serving to offer safe harbor for beneficial invertebrates.

“Pollinators are critical to the success of our fruit,” said Belknap. “Without them, we wouldn’t have any crop to speak of, so we planted habitats for native pollinators to encourage them to call our orchards home.” Rainier continues to go the extra mile, “we even teamed up with Xerces Society to get our orchard land officially certified as pollinator habitat,” said Belknap. The Xerces Society is a science-based, international non-profit that works to protect the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats.

These habitats are one such example of a host of other environmentally forward practices Rainier has in place. Be it high-density orchards, targeted root-ball drip systems or nutrient rich soil amendment program that upcycles culled apples and orchard cuttings, Rainier Fruit lives out company core-values through environmental best-practices in production of their exceptional winter apples.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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