Chelan Fresh, an apple, cherry and pear supplier based in Chelan, Wash., announced plans to merge with Borton Fruit, Yakima, Wash. The merger brings together two industry leading companies and five generations of farmers. The addition of Borton Fruit also brings an immediate 47% volume expansion to Chelan Fresh’s sales and marketing portfolio, including organic offerings, early-season cherries, innovative plantings and new proprietary apple varieties.
Together, the group invested more than $235 million in state-of-the-art packing facilities and technologies, new storage facilities and production efficiencies. These investments, combined with more than 13,000 acres planted in young, high-density orchards with modern trellis systems, will drive innovation on a large scale.
Chelan Fresh will market the majority of the new fruit under the Trout label, which marks the label’s largest brand expansion since it was first marketed in 1923.
“Customers want a one-stop-buying experience and shoppers want a wide selection of high-quality apples, pears and cherries all year long,” says Tom Riggan, chief executive officer of Chelan Fresh. “With the increase in volume and varieties, we can support any size program 12 months out of the year.”
The combined marketing company will retain the Chelan Fresh name and operate from both Chelan and Yakima. The venture will officially begin Sept. 1.
“The next generation of our family is determined to be positioned as industry leaders in the marketplace for the future in the fruit business,” says John Borton, chief executive officer of Borton Fruit. “That means servicing retail accounts from a large volume base, from modern orchards, state-of-the art packing lines and with exciting new varieties year-round. This partnership greatly enhances our ability to serve our customers.”
"We are excited to partner with another firm that prides itself on growing high-quality fruit and cutting-edge varieties. With farms in different growing regions throughout the Pacific Northwest, the group can supply customers with great fruit from the very front-end of harvest through the end of the year,” adds Bill Borton, president of Borton Fruit.
“There is no doubt that this new partnership leverages volume and scale to provide high-quality fruit and excellent year-around customer service, but the most rewarding part to me will be working day in and day out with all of the Chelan Fresh partners,” says Reggie Collins, chief executive officer of Chelan Fruit Cooperative. “Together, we’re all building one of the most modern, innovative companies in the business on the foundation of family, friends and a passion for farming.”