WENATCHEE, Wash. – Will it be the traditional gift of the pearl or the modern gift of the diamond to celebrate 30 years? What about a piece of organic fruit grown by Stemilt Growers? The leading tree fruit company knows fruit is just as valuable as the popular jewelry centerpieces and that’s because 2019 marks their 30th year of growing organic apples, pears, cherries and summer fruit. While reflecting on the past 30 years, Roger Pepperl, Stemilt marketing director, gives credit to Stemilt’s founding family, the Mathison’s, for creating success in the organic market.
“Back in 1989, Tom Mathison and Kyle Mathison recognized a distrust between the consumer and the food they were purchasing,” states Pepperl. “Tom not only saw a problem with this but knew it had to be fixed. He realized the power of organics and the market was about to brink onto something big. Stemilt needed to be the first to get on board.”
To address consumer’s concerns, Tom Mathison wanted to provide answers to questions like where food was grown, how it was grown and who was growing it. He felt that growing organics could help answer these questions while making a positive step towards regaining the customer’s trust. This move in Mathison’s playbook led to Stemilt’s mission of total transparency with the customer and built a trust that now leaves the customer with an ever-lasting memory of delight.
When Tom Mathison first began growing organics, he laid out the foundation for classic apple varieties, like Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Today, Mathison’s grandsons, West and Tate Mathison have built off their grandfather’s organic foundation and have evolved Stemilt’s organic brand, Artisan Organics™, into a program that grows and delivers high quality, flavorful organic varieties that today’s consumer seeks.
“Modern varieties like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady®, Pinata®, Rave® and SweeTango® are now all available organically, thanks to West (Mathison) and Tate’s (Mathison) innovative mindset,” says Pepperl. “These varieties are extremely popular conventionally, so we knew they would go far with the organic consumer as well.”
With just a few months remaining in the organic apple season, Stemilt suggests retailers capitalize now to finish the category strong. According to March 2019 retail scan data from Nielsen, organics made up 9 percent of total apple volumes sold on average in the U.S. with a $2.19 average retail price per pound. Continuing that momentum into the early summer is ideal, says Pepperl, and retailers can look to organic Fuji and Gala to lead the way, along with smaller sizes of organic Pink Lady® apples.
“Retailers should push for sales these last few months,” says Pepperl. “The fruit has impeccable quality thanks to our field team’s experience and consumer demand for organics is there.”
Stemilt’s field teams have worked hard for the last 30 years giving them first-hand experience with Washington State conditions and how organics grow. Washington State has some of the best organic growing climates thanks to the dry, arid conditions. Specifically, Artisan Organics™ summer fruit has great success in the south eastern Washington region due to the desert like conditions and nutrient rich soil.
“Our all-organic peach and nectarine program is hard to compete with,” says Pepperl. “This region’s conditions are unlike any other in the country. The hot temperatures mixed with the cool nights and abundance of fresh water make it the perfect area to grow summer fruit. The climate and our horticulture expertise lead to beautifully colored and extremely juicy peaches, nectarines, and apricots.”
Expect Stemilt to continue their 30-year anniversary celebrations later this year. For more about information about Stemilt’s Artisan Organics™ program and how to end your organic apple category with a bang, contact your Stemilt representative today.
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 the leading shipper of sweet cherries and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of 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, Instagram, Pinterest, and You Tube.