News Releases

FirstFruits Marketing of Washington Invests in New Robotic Packing Technology

BY: Adam Brady | DATE: July 17, 2017

YAKIMA, Wash. - July 17, 2017 - FirstFruits Marketing of Washington, a leader in organic apples and exclusive distributor of the Opal apple, recently completed the installation of a brand new packing line and automated palletizing system at their flagship facility at Broetje Orchards in the heart of their growing acreage in Prescott, Wash.

The new additions improve the handling of fruit to ensure apples arrive in high-quality condition to assist in maintaining a longer shelf life at retail. The new systems also include improvements to the cold chain process to keep apples chilled from harvest to arrival.

"Three packing lines combined with an automated palletizing system makes us more efficient and capable of meeting the needs of our diverse customer base," said Chuck Zeutenhorst, general manager of FirstFruits of Washington. "And with a new dedicated line for organics, we have the ability to provide the right varietal mix when our retail partners need it."

Not just concerned about their product, but their people as well, the new facility includes upgrades to a variety of elements to improve both the packaging process and the work environment for their employees.

"We designed a state-of-the-art packing facility with features that benefit both apples and people," said Jim Hazen, general manager of Broetje Orchards. "Our new facility addresses the latest in food safety concerns and offers a clean-room drop ceiling, enhanced lighting and an air circulation system that offers a comfortable work environment all year long."

The new packing line and automated systems will begin operation for use during the upcoming 2017-2018 apple season. See a video about the new technology currently under construction here. For more information, please contact FirstFruits Marketing at (509) 853-4710.

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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. For more Information, visit

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