Chelan Fresh Announces Merger with Borton Fruit
CHELAN, WA - The Chelan family has announced a move that will result in a significant sales boost and further growth, merging with fellow Washington grower Borton Fruit to develop and grow a number of apple varieties.
“Customers want a one-stop-buying experience and shoppers want a wide selection of high-quality apples, pears, and cherries all year long,” said Tom Riggan, CEO of Chelan Fresh. “With the increase in volume and varieties, we can support any size program twelve months out of the year.”
He continued, “Borton (Fruit) brings more than 100 years of expertise to our team. The company brings unique strengths and fresh perspectives, which will benefit customers. We are pleased to be joining forces with such a strong and innovative partner.”
According to a press release, the combined marketing company will retain the Chelan Fresh name and operate from both Chelan and Yakima, Washington. Both noted that while the venture will officially begin on September 1, the sales and marketing teams are already working closely to bring immediate benefits to buyers.
Mac Riggan, Chelan Fresh's Marketing Director, shared that different apple sizes grown in the southern part of the state will broaden the company's profile.
“This is the formalization of what’s been a very good informal relationship over the last several years,” Mac tells me. “We have the same culture in how we treat employees, partners, and customers, and a measurable benefit will be how this will broaden our bell curve of sizes. With access to both smaller and larger size fruit, we are coming together to better service our customers.”
Today, the third and fourth generations of Bortons operate the family farm. Together, the companies said they have co-developed and are growing the Orondo Ruby cherry, as well as next-generation apple varieties such as:
- The Rockit
- Red Honeycrisp
Also on the list are two red-fleshed apples, with the majority of the new fruit to be marketed under the Trout Label, first launched in 1923 and well-known around the world.
“The next generation of our family is determined to be positioned as industry leaders in the marketplace for the future in the fruit business,” said John Borton, CEO of Borton Fruit. “That means servicing retail accounts from a large volume base, from modern orchards, state-of-the art packing lines, and with exciting new varieties year-round. This partnership greatly enhances our ability to serve our customers.”
Bill Borton, President of Borton Fruit, added, "We are excited to partner with another firm that prides itself on growing high-quality fruit and cutting-edge varieties. With farms in different growing regions throughout the Pacific Northwest, the group can supply customers with great fruit from the very front-end of harvest through the end of the year.”
Chelan noted that, with the addition of Borton Fruit, its total saled volume will see an increase of upwards of 47 percent.
“There is no doubt that this new partnership leverages volume and scale to provide high-quality fruit and excellent year-around customer service, but the most rewarding part to me will be working day in and day out with all of the Chelan Fresh partners,” said Reggie Collins, CEO of Chelan Fruit Cooperative. “Together, we’re all building one of the most modern, innovative companies in the business on the foundation of family, friends, and a passion for farming.”
The company also said that its suppliers are currently investing millions of dollars into new assets, like Chelan Fruit Cooperative's recently completed, Chelan, Washington-based packing facility.
Congratulations to both sides of this new team on a new chapter in their histories.