Knouse Foods is a large fruit-processing company with seven processing plants in three states and 1,500 employees packing apple sauce, apple juice, apple slices, apple butter, vinegar, and cherry and apple pie fillings.
While it is a cooperative owned by about 150 Appalachian apple growers, it buys fruit from more than 600 growers, reaches into 70,000 acres of orchards, and has annual sales approaching $300 million—about the same as the Washington State fruit processing cooperative Tree Top.
Knouse has processing plants in Michigan and West Virginia and five in Pennsylvania.
Since 2000, Ken Guise, a Pennsylvania fruit grower, has led the organization as president and chief executive officer. Guise has been active in the industry and served as president of the U.S. Apple Association and the Apple Processors’ Association.
When Knouse began in 1949, it took its name from Milton Knouse, a pioneer in the food-processing industry who came in to manage the new co-op. Working originally with the brand name Lucky Leaf, the company acquired its most famous brand in 1984 when it purchased Musselman’s. In 1990, it bought the California Apple Time label, and in 1993, it bought the Lincoln and Speas Farm brands.
The company runs a large foodservice division, as well as selling processed products to ingredient users.