A Mighty Fruit Marketer
Organized in 1901, the California Fruit Exchange, a marketing cooperative of independent fruit growers and shippers, sold its products under the brand name Blue Anchor. Headquartered in Sacramento, California, the company quickly grew into the largest marketer of consistently high quality fresh deciduous fruits in the American West. The Exchange, at its peak, represented approximately 1,000 growers of tree fruits and table grapes as well as such exotic commodities as papayas, kiwi, and European cucumbers raised in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Chile, Mexico, and New Zealand. Its primary markets could be found in over 300 towns and cities in North America and in 22 overseas countries.
Throughout the company's history, its philosophy never varied from the --mission adopted at its first meeting in 1901:
To lay upon the consumers' table, fruit perfect in quality and at the lowest cost consistent with a --reasonable profit to the producers and others whose services are --necessary to the industry…[and]
to develop a demand for our fruits in the markets of the world.
To help realize these objectives, the California Fruit Exchange developed and promoted its Blue Anchor brand with the largest, strongest, and best marketing organization in the deciduous fresh fruit industry. The accompanying images of their labels illustrate the variety of colorful, clever, and highly individual designs they used to successfully compete in the wholesale and retail marketplaces. Although these examples are pear labels, all bear the Blue Anchor trademark and are typical of the images used for grapes, peaches, plums, apples, and other fruits.
In 1969, the California Fruit Exchange officially adopted the Blue Anchor trademark as the --company name, but otherwise continued as a successful marketing entity. However, in 2000, the Blue Anchor Company announced "…one of the last mighty fruit marketing cooperatives is packing it in after nearly 100 years in business." Officials noted that during the previous ten years, the cooperative had been steadily losing members who had started their own packinghouses and/or had joined with others to launch their own marketing efforts. This trend had become so widespread that by the time the decision to cease operations was made, the few remaining members were not surprised. The Blue Anchor trademark now exists only on the pages of highly collectible labels.