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Loren Queen looking for quality season at Domex Superfresh

The apple season is love at first bite for Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers in Yakima, WA. “I’ve just had my first Gala of the new crop and it was terrific,” he told The Produce News Aug. 24. “We could not have had better weather for growing apples this summer. We still have not had one single day where the temperature reached 100 degrees. I believe that must be a record. This means the fruit will have terrific internals and a nice finish to the outer appearance as well.”

Mr. Queen was asked if cold weather earlier in the production season will affect product volume and quality this season. “Last November’s record-breaking cold certainly impacted the overall crop volumes as well as some varieties such as Fuji, Braeburn and Golden Delicious,” he replied. “But it doesn’t appear to have affected the quality of the fruit hanging on the tree. Size appears to be very similar to last year, which is ideal.”

The apple harvest is underway for Domex.

“We started with Ginger Gold last week and Gala today,” Mr. Queen stated. “This weekend we will begin running Golden Delicious as well. Harvest on our later varieties — Pink Lady, Fuji and Cameo — is not predicted to start until mid-November in some cases and won’t hit full volume until the week of Thanksgiving. There is a possibility that cold weather will affect these varieties as we typically flirt with below-freezing temperatures during November.”

Domex markets a full apple manifest to global markets. This season, a full third of overall apple volume will be sold to export markets. Mr. Queen said Domex will move approximately 15 percent of Washington’s statewide 2011-12 apple crop.

Organic apples will account for 10 percent of overall volume for Domex this season. “We will be up about 5 percent in volume on organic apples this year,” he added.

This season, Domex will introduce its newest apple variety, Autumn Glory, which will be rolled out to a limited number of stores on the West Coast.

“It is a cross between a Golden and Fuji with very firm super-sweet flesh with a hint of spice,” Mr. Queen noted. “Some people describe it as tasting a bit like apple cider. Consumer response has been terrific in the test markets and consumer panels. We are very excited about this variety.”

Domex Superfresh Growers continues to make infrastructure improvements.

“We are kicking up the level of our already large commitment toward infrastructure investment,” Mr. Queen stated. “We are adding capacity to meet current and future demand and are working on additions or modifications to three of our packinglines and erecting a completely new 66,000-square-foot building and line here at headquarters.”

This season, the company will incorporate quick-response codes on all its apple bags. “These were a huge success this past summer on our cherry packaging,” he said.