Rainier Fruit Moving Toward EFI Certification
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
SELAH, WA - There’s nothing like an industry partnership to warm ANUK’s heart, especially when the companies are industry dynamos like Rainier Fruit and Equitable Food Initiative (EFI). Recently, Rainier announced it has teamed up with EFI to begin training and moving toward formally certifying its largest farm of over 2,300 acres.
“We have enjoyed working with EFI over the past three years and are excited to formalize our relationship and proceed with certification,” Mark Zirkle, Chief Executive Officer of Rainier Fruit, remarked. “We have always been a company focused on our employees and our processes, but we are also a company rooted in a commitment to excellence, and the EFI program offers a level of shared values and integrity our customers have come to expect from Rainier.”
The partnership will include a full portfolio of EFI certified organic and conventional apples, organic cherries, and organic blueberries, and will, in turn, make Rainier the first EFI-certified establishment in Washington State’s fruit industry, according to a press release.
“This training is very hands-on and tailored to different learning styles, so the team has the opportunity to understand their roles as the facilities work toward certification,” Courtney Lane, Human Resources Manager for Rainier’s Zirkle Warehouse Operations, commented. “This adds more tools in our toolbox to aid in the ongoing collaboration between employees and management.”
Rainier’s first EFI trainings took place the week of March 9 with Rainier’s Mattawa Operations and team leaders from its primary facility, Rainier’s Harrison Plant. Rainier’s employee focus teams went through the 40 hours of EFI training which included developing skills of conflict resolution, problem-solving, and collaboration. These existing teams have representatives from all levels of the employee workforce, from operations and management to packinghouse crew, harvesters, and foreign guest workers.
The EFI program is one of the most comprehensive certification programs in the industry and has over 300 rigorous standards focused on worker engagement, satisfaction, labor retention, and increased emphasis on food safety. EFI has provided a third-party certification for the produce industry’s Ethical Charter for Responsible Labor Practices, which in turn has impacted more than 35,000 farmworkers across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America.
As more fruitful and pivotal partnerships emerge in the industry, keep reading AndNowUKnow.