Borton & Sons Inc. Adds Koru, Rockit Apples to lineup

This season, Borton & Sons Inc., headquartered in Yakima, WA, plans to add two new apple varieties to its manifest. The company is a premium grower, packer and shipper of high-quality apples, pears and cherries with more than a century of industry expertise. The fourth generation of family members currently spearheads operations.

“We have started marketing two new varietals out of New Zealand with intentions in growing both here in Washington state,” said Lindsay Ehlis, part of the company’s sales and marketing team. “The first apple is the Koru. Along with Oneonta and New York Apple Sales, Borton Fruit has started marketing this unique variety in the United States. Consumer testing has proven to be overwhelmingly positive thus far. At this time, we are carrying limited volume out of New Zealand while commercial U.S. planting is under way.

“The second variety is the Rockit apple, which we are marketing here in the U.S. along with Chelan Fresh Marketing,” she continued. “These snack-sized apples provide a new healthy eating option on the go. The unique tubed packaging has already seen positive feedback from many industry veterans that have come in contact with the variety. Borton plans to start planting the Rockit here in Washington state next spring.”

Byron Borton, the company’s chief visionary officer, said conditions during the current apple production season have been favorable.

“The first varieties to come off the tree are Ginger Golds and Galas, which we have started picking this August,” he said. “We will be picking apples through November ending with our Cripps Pink/Pink Lady apples.

“Overall, quality is looking fantastic,” he commented. “Size will likely be up one full count across the state from normal years. The great weather early in the season made the apples jump out of the shoot. But perhaps the heat we have had the past three to four weeks may have slowed the sizing down a tad.”

Borton said the company is finalizing a new apple box “that will be one of the strongest in the industry. We have taken our approach to providing the market with the best fruit possible, and applied it to our full supply chain and packaging. This packaging investment ensures that the fruit will retain its superior quality when it arrives on customers’ shelves.”

The company markets apples under the “Apple Tree,” “Sno Chief,” “Yakima Chief” and “Sno Crisp” labels. “We do not grow organic produce, but do source some organics for our customers in small volumes to help fill when needed,” said Eric Borton, vice president of international sales and marketing. “Demand has grown some. But the greatest demand for apples still remains in traditionally grown fruit by a large margin because of its higher overall quality, yield and consistency.”

Borton Fruit markets apples to customers throughout the globe, and Eric Borton said, “We are continually seeking development of new markets and export opportunities.”

The company has a number of seasonal and nonseasonal marketing programs in place that have been highly successful. “One we will be focusing on in the next couple months will be our NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 program,” Ehlis said. “It’s great timing with the new school year beginning as well as the NFL kicking off. The program was designed to tackle childhood obesity by engaging youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools, starting with healthy snacks and foods and 60 minutes a day of exercise. This will be Borton’s third year being a part of this movement.”

On the facilities size, Ehlis said some improvements were made this past year. “We’ve implemented a new racking system to improve staging area at our main plant,” she told The Produce News. “This is allowing us to get ahead of orders and turn our truck loading times around much quicker. With an internal Loading Dock Analysis reporting process, we have improved the overall wait time at our facility by about 35 percent already, and are working toward making that an even better percentage. In addition to this staging and loading process, we’ve also designed a new truckers’ lounge for the drivers while they are here.”

First published on Enterprise Angels 15th September 2014

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