Rainer Fruit Company Kicks Off Organic Blueberry Harvest, Invests in Improved Genetics
- by Kayla Webb
SELAH, WA - This summer’s sales are sure to be sweet, especially with Rainier Fruit Company and the Zirkle family investing in improved genetics that produce even larger, crunchier, and more flavorful blueberries. With seasonal promotions just hitting their stride, I chatted with Tyler Johnson, Blueberry Commodity Manager, to find out everything that retailers need to know about Rainier’s current blueberry season.
“Rainier’s 100-percent organic blueberry harvest is about to begin. The crop is expected to have the same consistent, excellent quality as it has had in years past. On top of the proactive growing practices we have in place, Rainier began to invest in improved genetics over its short organic blueberry tenure. We protect these investments with an unbroken cold chain that spans from the field to the loading truck,” Tyler explained to me. “Rainier knows every minute counts to maintain longevity of shelf life, maximum quality for the consumer, and repeat purchases for the retailer.”
Rainier’s organic blueberry program is 100-percent owned and operated by the Zirkle family, with Mark Zirkle, fifth-generation family member and the current President of Zirkle Fruit Company, expanding upon his family’s legacy this season and beyond.
“Mark Zirkle has carried on the philosophy from his father that good, consistent quality has to start with the right varieties growing in the right fields. It is the reason why the Zirkle family is hyper-focused on analyzing micro-climates to determine the most optimal growing regions for each variety throughout Washington State,” Tyler continued. “Today, the Zirkle’s organic blueberry fields are planted from the Columbia Basin to North-Central Washington to avoid centralized weather events.”
The Zirkle’s organic blueberry fields are also 100 percent netted to protect the berries from various extreme weather damage. Tyler noted that while no grower can plan Mother Nature, Rainier has made it a point to invest in the right things in order to be proactive.
“Those investments are also a big reason why Rainier is able to keep its quality standards in place year after year,” Tyler said. “Organic blueberries have been one of the fastest-growing categories for several years and have only boasted this even more so during the recent consumer behavior shifts. Health-conscious consumers are looking for nutrient-dense convenient snacks and fresh ingredients and, during recent events, are leaning toward bigger pack sizes, which Rainier has been analyzing in apples, pears, and now cherries with the start of the season. Consumers are excited for a taste of summer, and Rainier is excited to help set our partners up for another successful season.”
Health-conscious consumers are also increasingly on the lookout for brands showcasing a commitment to sustainability and conservation. Rainier Fruit Company fits this bill after Zirkle Fruit partnered with the Xerces Society to earn the title of Bee Better Certified for its organic blueberry program.
Rainier will ship organic blueberries in clamshells from mid-June through September.
AndNowUKnow will continue to follow the latest crop updates, so stay tuned.