Rainier Fruit Achieves Equitable Food Initiative Certification
- by Chandler James
SELAH, WA - The fresh produce industry in Washington State just got more competitive as one of the state’s most prominent growers, Rainier Fruit Company, has officially achieved its Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certification for its largest farm of over 2,300 acres. For the past three years, both companies have worked to align EFI standards with Washington State Labor Laws and are excited to finalize their relationship in tandem with Rainier’s 2020 apple crop. The certification marks the first EFI-certified establishment in Washington State’s fruit industry.
“We have always been a company focused on our employees and processes, but we also know it is necessary to continually adapt what we did yesterday,” says Mark Zirkle, CEO of Rainier Fruit. “Working with EFI has confirmed our processes are always being tested to ensure our employees are being treated with integrity and excellence.”
The EFI program is one of the most comprehensive certification programs in the industry and has over 300 rigorous standards. Formally beginning training in March, Rainier Fruit’s leadership teams of managers and workers have been training with EFI in a variety of different ways to help progressively foster collaboration and problem-solving by focusing on worker engagement, satisfaction, labor retention, and food safety.
As reported in a press release, Rainier’s EFI certification includes a full manifest of organic and conventional apples, organic cherries, and organic blueberries, as the company continues to expand and adapt its initiatives to provide even more access to education and skill building in 2020.
“The EFI training and certification process fosters symmetrical communication at operations such as Rainier for employees and management to identify and resolve problems that often don't emerge through other channels,” said Kenton Harmer, Managing Director at EFI. “Combined with a culture of collaboration it allows companies to better understand what sort of issues are important to workers and to access their expertise in the solutions. It is very rewarding to see this model applied at the scale of Rainier and in such a dynamic category.”
Hats off to Rainier Fruit Company on dedicating itself to such a worthy cause. As fresh produce suppliers continue to compete for market share, ANUK will be here to report.