News Releases

Success Ahead: FirstFruits Marketing Prepares for Apple Season

BY: Adam Brady | DATE: August 03, 2016

YAKIMA, Wash., August 3, 2016 - FirstFruits Marketing of Washington is anticipating a great apple season with both overall volume and apple sizing increasing in all of their crops including proprietary varieties Opal® and Sweetie™ apples.

FirstFruits represents Broetje Orchards, a leader in Washington organic apple production and an innovator in new varieties to the market as well as Congdon Orchards. Thanks to nearly textbook growing conditions and an early spring bloom, FirstFruits started harvest at the end of July. This is ahead of normal time frames seen during past seasons.  According to FirstFruits General Manager Chuck Zeutenhorst, the average fruit size will be slightly larger this season and the overall state crop is expected to reach between 135 and 140 million fresh cases.

"It won't be a record-sized crop from Washington, but a large crop nonetheless," said Zeutenhorst. "We'll need lots of ad support concentrating on premium grade fruit, 88's and larger."

Organic tonnage at FirstFruits will increase this season by 15 percent, concentrated around the varieties seeing the most consumer demand including Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and of course, Opal®.

"Our organic program is our real 'sweet spot' and we've invested heavily in making that a focal point of our operation," said Zeutenhorst. "We'll continue to expand our organic production to meet consumer demand and remain in the forefront of organic farming practices and varietal development."

Sweetie™, FirstFruits' early exclusive variety, will begin shipping on September 5. Known as Gala's sweeter, crunchier cousin, this Braeburn and Royal Gala hybrid is intensely sweet and juicy with a crunchy texture and is only available for a limited time. The highly-acclaimed Opal® apple will return to the market beginning in October. This consumer favorite provides a flavorful and crunchy eating experience and naturally resists oxidation making it slow to brown. As the exclusive marketer of the Opal®, FirstFruits will offer the variety in both organic and conventional options and expects supplies to last through May 2017.

"We strive for great flavor and consistency in quality in all of our varieties," said Zeutenhorst.  "Consumers demand a variety of tastes today from their apple eating experience, and the demand for our unique varieties - like Opal® - continues to grow year after year. We're excited to deliver that amazing eating experience to consumers."

FirstFruits is also proud to announce the installation of an enhanced defect and color sorter at Broetje Orchards.  This new installation is fully operational now and adds an additional level of color and defect sorting as well as improvements to consistency in producing an even more uniform carton of apples. Each sizer lane is now fitted with nine cameras - some near infrared - to improve both defect detection and clarity of sorting.

FirstFruits' apples are supported at retail through comprehensive marketing plans including point-of-sale materials, merchandising bins, social media content and produce manager education. For more information, please contact East Coast Regional Marketer Dennis Jackson or West Coast Regional Marketer Tim Corkill. Learn more about FirstFruits at

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About FirstFruits Marketing of Washington

FirstFruits Marketing is a collaborative apple marketing company owned by Ralph and Cheryl Broetje. Their growers share a commitment to producing high quality fruit while balancing the demands of purpose, people, planet and profit so that a portion of profits can be donated to non-profit missions supporting the underserved

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