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Litehouse adds fresh-squeezed apple cider to value-added lineup

by Lora Abcarian | November 16, 2009
Litehouse Inc., headquartered in Sandpoint, ID, continues to innovate with a variety of value-added products. Paul Kusche, director of marketing and innovations, said that the firm's new cider showcases several of the premier apple varietals for which Washington is known.

"These are variety-specific blends," he said of the cider line. The program was initially launched as Washington Galas were coming into production during September. "Now we have a Honeycrisp blend, and then we will be going to a Fuji blend [in January]."

Mr. Kusche said that Litehouse looked around produce departments and saw that bulk generic product was being carried in those departments. He said that Litehouse's program gives retailers an opportunity to capitalize on the natural transition among Washington apple varieties as they come into production. According to Mr. Kusche, the concept is unique.

"It really is fresh-squeezed," he said. "We're going from the tree to the bottle in 48 to 64 hours."

The ciders are available in 64-ounce and 128-ounce sizes and do not require refrigeration. Asked what kind of comments the company has been receiving from produce department managers, Mr. Kusche said, "We've met with some pretty nice reception. We're getting outstanding feedback." He anticipated that sales would be especially strong from Halloween to Thanksgiving, a traditional time when cider is consumed.

At this point, the line of ciders is being sold at retail in the western portion of the United States.

During October, Litehouse introduced a new line of family-sized squeeze bottles for its dressings. Mr. Kusche said that the larger size was introduced in response to consumer demand. Litehouse dressings have been made with canola oil for the past 40 years, and the new product line carries a heart- healthy symbol to emphasize that fact.

In September, Litehouse introduced mushrooms and spring onions as part of its freeze-dried herb line, which provides consumers with convenience and time savings in the kitchen. The company has offered freeze-dried herbs to its retail partners for a decade.