Starr Ranch Growers™ and CMI Orchards Team Up for Exciting New Chapter; Jim Thomas and Bob Mast Share
WENATCHEE, WA - Some very exciting news occurred in the industry late yesterday afternoon, as Starr Ranch Growers™ announced an agreement to join forces with CMI Orchards. This strategic move will deliver more than 8 million cartons to CMI’s manifest and will further build upon the company’s ability to deliver core, organic, and specialty apples, pears, and cherries to market.
“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,” said Jim Thomas, Chairman of Starr Ranch Growers and Owner of Custom Apple Packing. “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.”
This move has been four years in the making. Starr Ranch Growers, which also operates under the name Oneonta Trading Company, includes Custom Apple, Diamond Fruit, and Apple King. This partnership will bring the addition of JUICI® and Karma® apples to CMI’s high-flavor arsenal, which includes varieties such as Ambrosia Gold®, KIKU®, Kanzi®, Jazz™, Envy™, Smitten®, SugarBee®, Sunrise Magic®, EverCrisp®, and Cosmic Crisp®.
The company added that, in combination with core conventional varietals from Custom Apple, and organics from Apple King, the move boosts CMI’s total volume by approximately 4.3 million cartons of apples.
Elevating its pear excellence, the new partnership with Diamond Fruit Growers in Hood River, Oregon, brings an additional 2 million pear cartons into CMI’s lineup. With this new value, CMI will become one of the largest pear shippers globally with optical sorting technology and pre-sizing for versatility, according to a press release. If we dive deeper into Hood River, you will find that it represents one of the three best pear-growing locales around the world—making CMI a pear supplier 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).
“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,” remarked Bob Mast, President of CMI Orchards. “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.”
Thomas also extended heartfelt gratitude to Starr Ranch CEO Don Odegard for his guidance and dedication during this pivotal transition period, laying a solid foundation for prosperous times ahead.
“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,” added Thomas. “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.”
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,” Mast added.
To learn more about the partnership, click here.
We look forward to learning more about what this move means for the industry moving forward!