Sep 19, 2023Starr Ranch, CMI Orchards unite with apples, pears, cherries
Starr Ranch Growers/Oneonta Trading Co. — which includes Custom Apple, Diamond Fruit and Apple King — has an agreement to join forces with CMI Orchards, delivering more than eight million cartons to CMI’s manifest.
This strategic move marks a milestone, forging a powerhouse of innovation and quality and builds on CMI’s commitment to provide core, organic and specialty apples, pears and cherries under one roof.
The addition of Juici and Karma apples from Starr Ranch enhances CMI’s high-flavor arsenal, which includes varieties such as Ambrosia Gold, KIKU, Kanzi, Jazz, Envy, Smitten, SugarBee, Sunrise Magic, EverCrisp, and Cosmic Crisp. In combination with core conventional varietals from Custom Apple and organics from Apple King, the move boosts CMI’s total volume by about 4.3 million cartons of apples.
The new partnership with Diamond Fruit Growers in Hood River, Ore., brings an additional two million pear cartons into CMI’s fold, establishing CMI as the largest pear shipper globally with optical sorting technology and pre-sizing for versatility. Hood River represents one of the three best pear growing locales around the world, and this addition means CMI now supplies pears from all three regions — Hood River (Diamond), the upper Wenatchee Valley (McDougall and Sons, Independent Warehouse and Hi-Up) and imports from Rio Negro, Argentina (Kleppe).
Along with apples and pears, CMI anticipates an additional volume of 1.8 million cartons of cherries, with more early- and late-season offerings.
“Extending the high-velocity cherry season means our retail partners can reap the benefits of one of the most lucrative times of year for longer, and come to one place for all the very best apples and pears year-round,” Bob Mast, president of CMI Orchards, said in a news release.
“After 90 cherished years nurturing the Starr Ranch community of growers, team members, and customers with unwavering integrity, the visionary path forward is unmistakably clear — uniting with CMI Orchards,” Jim Thomas, owner of Custom Apple Packing and chairman of Starr Ranch, said in the release. “This forward-thinking collaboration has been a long time in the making, promising unprecedented benefits and a bright future for our growers and retail partners.”
Thomas said Starr Ranch CEO Don Odegard helped guide the company through the transition, laying a solid foundation for prosperous times ahead.
“As we transition, the seasoned leadership of Bob Mast, who has guided CMI Orchards with distinction for over a decade, instills great confidence in what lies ahead,” he said in the release. “United, the CMI and Starr Ranch teams herald a future brimming with potential, grounded in a shared vision of success, innovation and diligence. I remain as committed as ever to not only our orchard but to nurturing a vibrant and sustainable future for the Wenatchee Valley’s fruit industry.”
Bryon McDougall, CMI Orchards chairman, said the company holds Jim Thomas and the rest of the family in the highest regard.
“Uniting with a company of Starr Ranch’s stature — a true powerhouse that has significantly shaped the tree fruit industry — not only marks the onset of an exhilarating new chapter for CMI but symbolizes a partnership rooted in deep respect, integrity and a shared vision for the future,” McDougall said in the release.
“Customers, partners, and fruit enthusiasts can expect an even greater focus on quality, sustainability and customer satisfaction, all while meeting CMI’s outstanding standard of service,” Mast said in the release. “Starr Ranch and CMI have an exceptional legacy of integrity and producing the finest apples, pears and cherries, and this move leverages our collective strengths, expands our offerings and combines the skills and experience of two outstanding teams of people, allowing us to drive innovation like never before.”