New packingshed means higher-quality fruit and reduced carbon footprint for Chelan Fresh
by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar | November 01, 2010
Apples, pears and cherries, soon shipping from Chelan Fruit's new facility in
Chelan Falls, WA, enjoy two things other fruit in the state may not.
First, the new packingshed lies within a small radius of Chelan’s orchards,
which reduces handling and loading and results in better-quality fruit.
Moreover, the proximity of orchards to the firm’s shipping facility reduces
transportation time, cost and environmental impact, lowering the operation’s
According to Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing for Chelan Fresh
Marketing in Chelan Falls, "Most of our fruit is closer to our packing facilities
than the other big four shippers."
Mr. Riggan said that the Beebe plant, which is located across the Columbia
River from Chelan Falls, was purchased from Stemilt Growers earlier this year,
and Chelan Fruit used the facility for packing and shipping cherries. Pears and
apples will begin shipping from the new plant next year.
Reggie Collins, chief executive officer and general manager of Chelan Fruit,
told The Produce News that 35 percent of the operation’s orchard acreage is
within a 10-mile radius of the Beebe plant, 50 percent of the orchards are
within a 30-mile radius and 100 percent of the orchards are within 100 miles.
The large building has the capacity for 46,000 bins of controlled-atmosphere
storage and 14,000 bins of regular storage as well as capacity for 136,000
packed boxes. There is one 14-ton-per-hour red cherry line and additional
room for two commit-to-pack lines. Plans are to move another line to the
facility and expand with an additional sizer.
“We have plans to modify this [current cherry] line for quality handling and
consumer packs,” Mr. Collins said, adding that a line from another shed will
be moved to the Beebe location.
“Then we will pack all our pears on this line,” he continued. “When the pears
are done around the first of the year, this line will then pack Goldens and
He went on to say, “By purchasing this plant that is within a couple of miles of
our main facilities, we were able to sell Pateros North, which is located 20
miles north. Ultimately all pears and apples will be packed and shipped from
the Chelan area.”
Mr. Collins also noted, “We are replacing and improving the cherry sizer,
remodeling our consumer packaging, increasing our capacity and our
packaging types. And we will look at adding new-style scrubbers to our CA
rooms, eliminating the need for lime and its storage and waste.”
While the improvements benefit Chelan Fresh and its customers, the
environment also comes out ahead. Fewer miles driven mean fewer
emissions, and Mr. Collins said that the operation is looking at energy
efficiency through variale-speed fans, overhead doors and new lighting.