Crunch Pak counts apple slices like McDonald’s counts hamburgers—and the count is nearing 7 billion slices sold since the company created the industry 11 years ago. It bills itself as the original and leading supplier of fresh sliced apples in the world.
Tony Freytag, a company founder and national marketing director, said fresh apple slices can now be found in 20,000 stores, in various forms of packaging, and sales at retail are around $200 million. There are more than ten players in the industry, and Crunch Pak, headquartered in Wenatchee, Washington, has 26 percent of it, he said.
McDonald’s recently announced it will offer apple slices in every Happy Meal, cutting its French fry offering in half. “We don’t produce for McDonald’s, but a rising tide floats all boats,” Freytag told the audience at the U.S. Apple Association’s outlook and marketing conference in Chicago.
One apple, sliced into 12 pieces, has a 21-day shelf life. Crunch Pak worked with NatureSeal to develop the technology to treat apples and maintain their freshness after slicing.
The team came up with the ideal formula to keep an apple crisp and fresh after it was sliced, he said. It is a combination of vitamin C and calcium to prevent spoilage, slices of the proper width to maintain freshness, and breathable packaging to ensure optimum quality during transportation to market.
The climate of the times—the concern over childhood obesity and the interest in healthy snacks—generated a growth industry in which Crunch Pak can produce about 3 million servings of sliced apples a week. “We need to compete with packaged snacks, not produce,” he said.