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L&M has announced an exclusive marketing relationship with Eakin Fruit, one of Washington state’s longtime Yakima Valley grower-shippers, furthering L&M’s expansion in Washington.

LMThe move will substantially add to L&M’s organic apple program while increasing the mainline varietal volume. Italian prunes, Empress plums and President plums are also on the list of new items L&M is excited to add to its offerings, complementing current stone fruit product offerings. L&M is looking to continue expanding its distribution of plums and prunes.

“This move further solidifies our base and is a strategic match for both of us,” Richard Gonzales, general manager of L&M’s Washington division, said in a June 28 press release. “The loading in Union Gap [WA] offers easy access for the trucks and will provide cross-docking opportunities in central Yakima [WA].”

In addition, Eakin Fruit’s Michael Riehl and Zane Schwabauer will join L&M as full-time sales specialists. L&M will begin marketing Eakin’s fruit beginning July 1.

The new relationship is the second major partnership for L&M in the last six months and Eakin Fruit is the fourth overall shipper to be added to the company in the past three years. Earlier this year, L&M added Conrad & Adams, a vertically integrated grower-shipper of apples, pears, cherries, peaches and nectarines.

Mr. Gonzales added in the release, “It’s about building our business with the right suppliers and the right customers to create a true win-win for both the customers and for the growers. Their product mix, and our ability to find a home for it, provides further evidence that the independent grower has an indelible place among the corporate farms, offering niche and core products that larger farms find it difficult to effectively combine in the same orchard.”