Aug 12, 2020
Major growth trajectory continues for CMI Orchards in Washington state

Furthering its commitment to being a one-stop-shop for retailers looking for premium apples, pears and cherries grown in Washington state, CMI Orchards LLC reports continued expansion for the company.

Strategic partnerships with Yakima Fruit, as well as with Pine Canyon Growers, in addition to significant internal growth, has added over 4 million boxes to CMI’s manifest.

“This is all a part of a long-range plan for strategic growth to better serve our customers,” CMI President Bob Mast said in a news release. “The design began to unfold back in 2018 when CMI Orchards added Pine Canyon Growers as a grower, packer and shipper. This addition greatly strengthened our manifest and our progress has enabled us to team up with another great partner in Yakima Fruit.”

“Yakima Fruit, formerly connected to Yakima Fresh, has a highly desirable manifest that greatly bolsters our offerings, including exceptional early Honeycrisp and high-colored genetic strains of Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji,” Mast said. “The partnership also adds considerable Cosmic Crisp volume.” According to Mast, the partnership was executed on March 20, 2020.

As a result of recent growth, CMI reports the following increases in their core, organic and branded offerings: Granny Smith (+89%), Gala (+44%), Pink Lady (+92%), Fuji (+62%), Honeycrisp (+62%), and organic Honeycrisp (+47%).

According to CMI, their total organic crop has surpassed 3.5 million boxes, which is made up of increases in core organic varieties such as Gala, Fuji and Honeycrisp, in addition to branded organics which create opportunities for retail pricing tiers that help boost sales. In 2020, CMI will bring the first Washington-grown EverCrisp to market, and will launch the very first harvest of organic EverCrisp nationwide.

Mast reports that in addition to high production orchards, the Yakima Fruit partnership brings an opportunity to strategize on future plantings with available unplanted acreage to best meet the needs of CMI’s retailer and consumer preferences for both apples and cherries.

“CMI is thrilled with the opportunity this blank slate provides and is looking into planting early cherry varieties, licensed branded apples and cherries, as well as high flavor, high quality core apple varietals.

“Between our exceptional domestic apples, premium managed varieties, year-round supply and commitment to innovation, we are perfectly positioned to serve the growing needs of the market,” Mast said. “CMI is already known within the industry as a leader for new branded items and organics, and this partnership will enable us to continue to pioneer advancements in these areas while expanding our fruit supply, meeting the needs of all of our customers.

“We are very proud to welcome the Yakima Fruit team to the CMI Orchards Family and look forward to a long-lasting partnership,” Mast said.

CMI Orchards, founded in 1989, is the sales and marketing arm of McDougall and Sons, Columbia Fruit Packers, Double Diamond Fruit Company, Highland Fruit Company and Pine Canyon Growers. With nine warehouses locations throughout the State of Washington, this new partnership will add one additional packing shed, greatly increasing CMI’s production capacity and efficiencies.

Yakima Fruit was incorporated in 1949 by the Cohodas Brothers Co. of Michigan, a wholesale produce distribution company with branches throughout Michigan and Wisconsin. Following World War II service with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Herbert L. Frank relocated to Yakima, Washington to assume management of the recently acquired packing and storage facility. Subsequently, Yakima Fruit was managed by Lawrence C. Frank and then Michael C. Wilcox, a third-generation grower with sales and marketing experience. In April 2018, a majority interest in Yakima Fruit was acquired by Pioneer Partners LLP, an investment subsidiary of the Hancock Natural Resources Group.

Orchards near Yakima, Washington. Photo: CMI Orchards

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