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Domex Superfresh Growers excited about rise of organic apples

Domex Superfresh Growers has been farming eastern Washington land for more than 125 years so its leaders know a thing or two about selling apples in the winter.

“It’s no secret that the apple crop is short this year in Washington state, and generally in the United States, but we still have plenty of apples to promote and we’ve been working really hard to get our retail customers focused,” said Mike Preacher, director of marketing for the Yakima, WA-based company.

That’s especially true for organic apples this winter, which has seen an increase in production as a state.

 MG 3833Although the apple crop is short this year, Domex Superfresh Growers still has plenty of good-quality apples to promote.“Now is a really good time to get home the message that consumers who want organic apples will have access to them and we’ve seen that whole category expand beyond the original typical organic retailer,” Preacher said. “All the mass merchandisers are carrying them and emphasizing them, your traditional groceries are carrying them and they are everywhere.”

Based on early estimates, Preacher is expecting to see an increase in consumption of all apples as the calendar passes New Year’s Day and more consumers start thinking about more healthy foods.

“We’ve already had some come out of storage and overall, I think the apples are eating great and we have good flavor,” he said. “We continue to improve our storage technologies and knowledge of the fruit to deliver high-quality good tasting apples and pears all year, and we’re pleased about that.”

The company has seen a charge towards automation impact its operations lately, as well as the industry overall.

“We continue to put in high-density orchards, we make sure we’re growing the right varieties of apples in the right places and through integrated pest management and all different kinds of techniques, we’re getting better and more efficient at growing more organic apples,” Preacher said. “We don’t have as much labor as we need, so we’re working to figure out how to harvest more efficiently, how to prune more efficiently and how do we reduce the number of tractor passes required.”

Domex Superfresh Growers is working hard to secure more promotional time and space on apples this winter to keep them in front of consumers and get consumption up. Part of that is coming up with creative in-store display and promotional methods and secondary display space it helps retailers with.

“We’re doing our part to develop new flavors, with our Autumn Glory apple now in its third serious year of distribution and we’re find excellent momentum with all the retailers who had it last year extending it even further this year,” Preacher said. “We rely on digital education of consumers and we work directly with retailers to help them get that message out to their channels and ours.”

The company recently made a switch to bags that conveys all kinds of information about the apples, plus they are really convenient with the handle.

“When the price is right and the frequency of promotion is out there, things will go better,” Preacher said.

In 2019, the company will continue updating and automating its packing lines and plan to continue to invest in organics and grow its offerings.