The news about blues has Rainier Fruit Co. in the pink. “We expect to pack upwards of five million pounds this year, about 30 percent more than last year,” said Director of Marketing Suzanne Wolter. “Producing acreage is stable and the maturing bushes continue to increase production tonnage.”
With its headquarters in Yakima, WA, Rainier is one of the premiere fruit producers in the Pacific Northwest.
The company’s blueberry harvest ramped up on June 13, and Wolter said peak volume will hit throughout the month of July. “The harvest will continue into October,” she added.
Mother Nature has cooperated with berry growers this season. “We had a warm early spring, which has given us about a week earlier start than last year,” Wolter said. “The heavier-than-normal moisture we received in May hasn’t been an issue at all for blueberries. It’s been an ideal growing season, and we’re looking at quality that’s as good as or better than we’ve ever had.”
She is equally excited about product sizing and quality in 2013. “We’ve become known for excellent size, firmness and flavor of the berries produced on our ranches,” she noted. “Buyers visiting our area have repeatedly commented on the large size and exceptional flavor of the fruit. We expect the same from this year’s crop.”
Rainier has also hit its stride as an organic blueberry producer, with 90 percent of product falling into the category. “We’ve found our niche producing organic fruit and created a demand for ‘Rainier’ brand organic blueberries from customers and consumers across the U.S. and Canada,” she stated.
Although most of the blues are sold domestically, Wolter said Canada is the company’s largest export market.
This July, Rainier plans to introduce a new peel-away recipe label on its one-pint blueberries. “The recipe calls for blueberries, dark sweet and Rainier cherries and apples,” she said. “According to a 2011 Perishables Group packaged produce research study, 46 percent of surveyed consumers consider a photo of a finished dish important, and they are looking for recipes with commonly-found ingredients. July is peak season for cherries and blueberries, and of course apples are available year-round.”