Stemilt's Artisan Organics Apples Reaching New Heights With Volume, Flavor Surge
by Stemilt Growers
Posted: 2017-09-21 09:08:13 EST

WENATCHEE, Wash. – Twenty-eight years ago, Stemilt founder Tom Mathison made a bold move for apples. He began transitioning significant acreage, primarily the Golden Delicious variety, to organic production, making Stemilt an early leader in organic apples. Organic apples have moved from niche in 1989 to an everyday offering today, yet one thing that hasn’t wavered is Stemilt’s commitment to growing apples organically.

In fact, the company is more invested than ever before in organics with nearly 30 percent of its entire apple crop grown and certified as organic this year, and even more acreage currently going through the three-year transition process. Perhaps more exciting than Stemilt’s volume increases in organics is the varietal mix of apples that the company is farming organically.

“My grandfather would be amazed by the flavors we are growing today,” said Tate Mathison, Stemilt director of sales and member of his family’s fifth generation of farmers. “Honeycrisp, Pink Lady®, Gala, Fuji, Piñata®, and SweeTango® - many of these apples weren’t grown back in 1989, yet alone grown organically. This surge of flavors is exciting for our Artisan Organics™ program, and most importantly, for organic shoppers as they will have more access to their favorite varieties organically.”

When comparing the 2017 crop year to last year, Stemilt will see a 55 percent increase on its total organic apple supply, with a drastic 250 percent increase in organic Honeycrisp volumes. Organic Fuji is up more than 90 percent in volume, and Stemilt’s signature variety, Piñata®, is expected to have an organic volume increase of 60 percent once it harvests. Pink Lady® and Gala volumes have also increased organically, each by more than 30 percent.

“Our organic growth is centered around growing apples with flavors that delight shoppers. Organics are booming across grocery, and apples are among the top three organic fruits for the produce department. Growing modern apples like Honeycrisp organically allows us to help retailers cater to their best customer in the produce department, the organic shopper, and do so with our high standards of ‘world famous’ fruit,” said Roger Pepperl, Stemilt marketing director.

Apple harvest is underway at Stemilt and the surge in organic volume is already making it possible for retailers to promote organic apples in a bigger way than ever before. Pepperl said that running feature promotions on bulk organic apples, including Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady®, and Piñata® will be key in driving organic apple sales growth in the late fall and winter months. The 2017 crop will also have more opportunities to promote small-sized fruit, making it a great time for retailers to promote intent to parents and kids through Stemilt’s 3lb. Artisan Organics™ Lil Snappers® apple line-up.

“Lil Snappers® kid-sized apples have taken off for many retailers, so much so that they are now an everyday item. The increased organic volumes at Stemilt will now allow retailers to promote this well-known brand organically. The package size of three pounds matches perfectly with shopper trip frequency and household size. Most importantly, it ensures that more fruit gets sold to the largest produce purchaser at your store – the organic shopper – and then eaten by the next generation of produce shoppers,” said Pepperl.

Organic growth won’t slow at Stemilt for the foreseeable future. The company has more acreage in transition to organics and hopes to not only offer shoppers with more supplies, but also increased availability throughout the year.

“Our long-time leadership in organics has positioned Artisan Organics™ perfectly to meet the increasing consumer demand for flavorful organic apples,” said Pepperl. “We’ve been growing and learning about organics for nearly three decades and that experience is helping us bring these new star apples to grocery stores organically, and with exceptional flavors.”

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About Stemilt

Stemilt Growers is a leading tree fruit growing, packing and shipping company based in Wenatchee, Washington. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt is a leading shipper of sweet cherries and organic tree fruits. Stemilt has also demonstrated a commitment to sustainable agriculture and social responsibility since 1989, when founder Tom Mathison launched the company’s Responsible Choice program. For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com and follow Stemilt on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.

Source: Stemilt Growers