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Bill and Jeannette Evans founded their company in 1949 with a vision to produce year-round consistently flavorful fruit farmed on their own orchards. The business practices that grew the company for almost seven decades will launch the company forward as the next generation transitions into leadership roles. In addition to sales responsibilities, Bill and Jeannette Evans' grandson Joe Evans serves multiple management roles throughout the family business. Granddaughter Kimberly (Evans) Hiebert manages the company’s human resource department, along with numerous other administration responsibilities. The company has also recruited Suzanne Wolter to lead its marketing efforts.evans

“Bill and I put our hearts and souls into quietly producing exceptional fruit,” Jeannette Evans said in a press release.  “I’m pleased to see my grandchildren adopt the same philosophies under my guidance.”

Joe and Hiebert grew up on their family farm. Joe particularly enjoyed his time in the orchard with his father, Tim Evans, who was responsible for his own and numerous company orchards. Prior to college, his grandfather Bill shared an article from Western Fruit Grower acknowledging Evans Fruit accomplishments and industry contributions.  It was then Joe realized his passion for the industry and chose to follow in his parents' and grandparents’ footsteps majoring in agricultural economics and business management. Upon his 2008 graduation from WSU he spent the summer with another organization before returning to the family business working closely alongside his grandparents. 

Hiebert joined the company full time in 2005 shortly after earning a degree in psychology from Washington State University. The company said her education serves her well in managing the company’s human resource department. The company said her passion for people drives her desire to create an employee-centric workplace.

Evans Fruit Co. recognizes change is essential as the domestic and retail landscape continues to evolve. “With a new generation of family members moving into leadership roles, we see the need to better promote our company and have recruited Suzanne Wolter to lead our marketing efforts,” Jeannette Evans said in a press release. “We happily welcome her to our team and look forward to a fresh approach promoting our family business and great tasting apples.”

Wolter will join an experienced team of industry professionals Aug. 1. Wesley Akiyama and Kristina Conrad have been with the company more than 20 years; Molly Scott, Scott Hennessey and Patti Gilroy joined within the last five. Family members serving various roles include Russel Loges, Julie Evans, Pat Martinson, Barb Evans and Andy Hiebert. 

The Giumarra Cos., based in Los Angeles, announced that it will be working with family-owned Glacier Fresh to market the orchard’s Montana-grown cherry harvest this summer.   

“We are excited to partner with a like-minded company to expand our premium cherry category,” said Craig Uchizono, vice president of Southern Hemisphere for Giumarra Cos.

Founded in 2001, Glacier Fresh is based in the Flathead Lake region of western Montana, an area with an ideal cherry-growing microclimate due to long summer days and cool nights. The cherry orchards are fed with mountain glacial water, resulting in large-sized fruit with sweet flavor.gium

“Our farms have traditionally been focused on growing high-quality fruit for the export market,” said Cody Herring, owner of Glacier Fresh. “In working with Giumarra, we both felt it would be advantageous to introduce this fruit to retail customers in the U.S.”

Harvest will begin in late July, with both Rainiers and dark red varieties available. The cherries will be available bulk or packaged in Glacier Fresh-branded pouch bags.

“We are excited to see our cherries coming to U.S. stores this summer, as most consumers don’t know we grow such incredible fruit right here in Montana,” said Dusti Herring, co-owner of Glacier Fresh and wife of Cody Herring. “We are very proud of our fresh cherry varieties and look forward to working with Giumarra to place them in stores both in our local area and across the country.”

Glacier Fresh employs local students and teachers in its custom packinghouse each summer to help pack and ship its crop. The company also hosts permanent field staff in cabins on nearby wooded property.

“We have a large team here every summer who help harvest our fruit, and we consider them part of the Glacier Fresh family,” said Herring.

Currently, Glacier Fresh works with local Montana growers to pack and ship more than 1 million pounds of fruit, making up more than 25 percent of the state’s annual cherry harvest. Herring visited large growing operations in Europe and New Zealand during the most recent off-season, and ultimately invested in sorting equipment with advanced computer software to digitally monitor size and quality on the packingline.

“We are expanding our growing operations annually to meet domestic and international demand, and it’s important for us to maintain quality and be competitive with large growers in the marketplace,” said Herring.

As an added touch, the Herrings are planning to offer a farm stand in Flathead Lake to be managed by their 10-year-old son Quinn.

“While we have not previously sold our cherries to the public, we decided our son is old enough to begin learning the business and this would be a great way to teach him the value of a dollar,” said Herring.

“Cody and Dusti are excellent examples of progressive, young family farmers who are committed to growing their business using modern technology,” said Hillary Brick, senior vice president of marketing for the Giumarra Cos. “We’re proud to include them in our family of growers as we work together to feed the world in a healthy way.”

Instacart has entered into partnerships with Wegmans Food Markets and Giant Food Stores LLC. The new service is currently available at select Northern Virginia and Maryland Wegmans stores as well as Giant shoppers in the Philadelphia area.

“We know our customers are busy, and that any found time in their week can make a difference. That’s where we can help — by giving them the option to have Wegmans delivered fresh to their door,” Heather Pawlowski, vice president of e-commerce for Wegmans, said in a press release. “By partnering with an industry leader like Instacart, we’re able to provide our customers with a seamless shopping experience with the quality and service they’ve come to expect from Wegmans, without leaving their house.”

“Partnering with the best retailers nationwide is essential to the success of Instacart,” Apoorva Mehta, chief executive officer of Instacart, said in the release. “Wegmans is a brand with a loyal fan base. This partnership is a milestone for Instacart, allowing us to bring the products Wegmans customers love straight to their doorstep.”

“This partnership with Instacart gives our customers in the greater Philadelphia area another convenient delivery option,” Tom Lenkevich, president of Giant, said in a press release. “From quality to convenience, our job is to provide the best possible experience for our shoppers, and now that includes providing them with a same-day delivery solution.”

“Instacart has always been about bringing customers’ favorite stores, groceries and essentials directly to their doorsteps,” Nilam Ganenthiran, Instacart’s chief business officer, said in the release. “Giant is loved by its customers, and we believe Philadelphia residents will enjoy the added convenience, not to mention having one less errand to run.”

 

After a late bloom and cool spring temperatures, the 2017 Northwest cherry crop kept retailers across the United States anxiously awaiting the main harvest to get under way. Strong export pricing created additional market shortages as many of the early cherries were pulled into international markets, limiting supplies and keeping upward pressure on pricing. But beginning this week, big volumes are rolling to retailers across North America.CherryDisplay 2 6725CMI expects its Rainier cherry volume to be up close to 50 percent this year.

George Harter, vice president of marketing for CMI Orchards, said the company is gearing up for the biggest week of the season on Bing cherries with peak volume in Rainier and Sweethearts hitting after the July 4 holiday.

“Compared to the last couple of years which were unseasonably early, it has felt like forever to get this season rolling,” said Harter. “That is behind us now and the next four weeks will bring peak supplies on both red and Rainier cherries.”

Harter said that despite the later harvest, initial sales have been excellent.

“If you look at the first 13 days of the Northwest cherry season compared to the first 13 shipping days last year, the industry is up 41 percent in total carton shipments,” said Harter. “That’s a strong indication that the cherry quality we’re seeing is outstanding.”

Harter said that CMI Orchards is predicting a record harvest in both red cherries and Rainier cherries. “Our horticultural staff is telling us that 2017 is going to be an epic crop. We’re not only anticipating a big crop of red cherries, but we’re projecting a record harvest of Rainiers rebounding from last year’s small crop.

“Any retailer who has been waiting for that one big year to hammer Rainiers, now is the time,” said Harter. “At CMI we expect our Rainier cherry volume to be up close to 50 percent.”

Harter said the harvest of red cherries is solidly under way, with Rainier harvest expected to peak over the weeks of July 1-15.

“We’re counting on our partner retailers to really drive sales during the entire month of July,” said Harter. “We believe that 60 percent of our total cherry crop will be harvested after the July 4 holiday. That bodes well for strong promotions for the entire month of July.”

Harter said they are pleased with cherry sizing. “Fruit packed so far has been peaking on 10-10.5 row size, which is bigger than the initial pre-harvest estimates. Overall, fruit size will be down slightly from last year when a light crop on the trees yielded above average sizing. We’ll still have plenty of the 10.5 row and larger cherries that consumers prefer.”

 

Hopes were high for the 2016 domestic garlic crop as it followed a 2015 crop that saw numerous El Niño-related weather events, from floods to droughts to tornados, which wreaked havoc on many garlic fields.

Unfortunately, the 2016 crop was also down by 15-20 percent of normal, also due to inclement weather condition. Domestic garlic producers tend to say that the “norm” for a garlic crop is being redefined from year to year.

Hymel-LouisLouis Hymel“Spice World’s 2016 crop was down by 15 to 20 percent,” said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing for the Orlando, FL-based grower and shipper of garlic and other specialty items. “As of early June, we were finishing this year’s crop harvest, which is quite different. In fact, we are projecting an approximate 20 percent increase.”

Bill Christopher, owner of Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, CA, concurred, telling The Produce News that the company’s crop is also up this year. “Garlic crops over the past few years cannot be defined as normal,” he said. “This year we are a little above average. We had a cold winter, and garlic plants like the cold.”

Christopher added that the quality of the California crop is very good this year, saying, “The bulbs aren’t huge, but they are nice size.”

He explained that the market has changed somewhat in recent years. Many retailers are selling bulk bulbs, and they tend to like smaller sizes. “We receive a mix of size demands, and some do like larger bulbs,” he noted. “We try to fill every request.”

Christopher Ranch began harvesting in early June. The harvest will continue until mid-September.KEN--BILL-CHRISTOPHERKen and Bill Christopher of Christopher Ranch.

Christopher pointed out that most customers prefer the traditional white garlic, which the company is known to produce. “Some customers want the freshest possible garlic, so they’ll take the purple garlic when it’s fresh from Mexico. But California produces garlic with the highest Brix level and the strongest and best flavor,” he stressed.

Hymel acknowledged that the 2016 crop year had some issues with decreased pack-outs. “However, this year with the 2017 harvest in full swing, we have not had any issues,” he said in early June. “But we don’t make claims until everything is in storage and protected from Mother Nature. By all accounts, it looks to be a good crop in quality and quantity, and it is definitely an increased crop over last year.

“Harvesting is going full speed at this time,” Hymel continued. “And we expect everything to stay on track.”

Increased domestic crop of good quality garlic or not, how the market holds up in the coming year has a lot to do with what other countries — especially China — export to the U.S.

As of February 2017, according to mapsofworld.com, China continued to be, by far, the largest producer of garlic in the world, with 20,058,388 tons. India is the second-largest producer, but with only 1,252,000 tons produced in the country. The United States ranks No. 10, with 175,450 tons.

“It is difficult to get accurate information out of China,” said Christopher. “From some, we’ve heard that its crop is smaller. But from others we’ve heard the contrary, and that it’s up as much as 20 percent. We never know what’s actually going on until we’re into July and August and Chinese garlic is arriving in the U.S.”

Until then, Christopher expects prices to remain firm. But what occurs once China starts shipping to the United States may change the market climate.

“There are many factors that affect U.S. market prices,” Hymel pointed out. “However, prices in the past year reached record highs. We therefore expect them to come down in time.

“The California crop is looking good so far with increased yields and quantities, especially since Spice World increased its planted acres,” he continued. “Garlic from Spain will come in at lower prices, and there are still the unknown quantities that will come in from China.”