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Crunch Pak LLC, headquartered in Cashmere, WA, is expected to grow its sliced apple business, and the recent acquisition of Stemilt Growers' "AppleSweets" line is expected to reinforce Crunch Pak's growing volume. "We will certainly see an increase, we believe, of about 10 percent," Director of Marketing Tony Freytag told The Produce News June 28.

The last stocks of “AppleSweets” are expected to be gone by mid-July. The companies have been working together to ensure a smooth transition. "The transition of accounts has already begun. We don't want an 'AppleSweets' customer caught without product," said Mr. Freytag. "Everything will be done by the middle of July."

This past March, Stemilt acquired Dovex Fruit Co., thereby increasing its volume of raw product. Although Dovex is a business partner in Crunch Pak, Mr. Freytag said, "That interest is totally unrelated to the Dovex-Stemilt combination."

Crunch Pak is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and growth continues to accelerate in the sliced apple category. "It all funnels into our core business of apples," Mr. Freytag said of the acquisition. "Stemilt is a very good grower and marketer of commodities. We will now utilize Stemilt as a supplier. This gives us insurance that as we grow, we will have high-quality raw product."

Asked how the acquisition will affect Crunch Pak operations, Mr. Freytag replied, "We believe we can absorb things as they are." Business is generally slower in the summer months as volume of old-crop apples cleans up in anticipation of new-crop apples. "This is a good time to transition," he said.

A study commissioned by the Perishables Group stated that Crunch Pak is the national leader in the sliced apple category. In the past five years, supermarket sales have increased 60.3 percent, and Crunch Pak products comprise approximately 35 percent of the total U.S. sliced apple category in the supermarket channel. In addition to its conventional apple slices, Crunch Pak also leads the way with the sale of organic apple slices, which account for 30 percent of its overall volume.