This week, CMI Orchards, the Wenatchee-based sales and marketing company, announced a new partnership with Starr Ranch Growers to bring the fruit from Custom Apple Packing of Wenatchee, Washington, Apple King of Yakima, Washington, and Diamond Fruit Growers cooperative of Hood River, Oregon, into CMI’s manifest.

Together, that accounts for more than 8 million cartons of new fruit, according to a news release that said the deal has been in the works over the past four years. 

“Starr Ranch and CMI have an exceptional legacy of integrity and producing the finest apples, pears and cherries, and this move leverages our collective strengths, expands our offerings and combines the skills and experience of two outstanding teams of people,” said Bob Mast, president of CMI Orchards, in a statement.

Jim Thomas, the chairman of Starr Ranch Growers and the owner of Custom Apple Packing called the partnership the “unmistakably clear” path forward for the company, founded 90 years ago by his grandfather. 

“United, the CMI and Starr Ranch teams herald a future brimming with potential, grounded in a shared vision of success, innovation and diligence,” he said in a statement. “I remain as committed as ever to not only our orchard but to nurturing a vibrant and sustainable future for the Wenatchee Valley’s fruit industry.”

Gilbert Orchards of Yakima, which previously marketed its fruit with Starr Ranch, announced a new sales partnership with Washington Fruit Growers at the end of August. 

“Along with our partners at Mount Adams and Roche Fruit, we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to partner with another local, family owned and operated company,” said Tommy Hanses, CEO of Washington Fruit Growers, in a news release. “In the dynamic and ever-changing tree fruit industry, working with the right partners who share our values and can nimbly respond to the needs of our customers is of paramount importance.”

Sean Gilbert, president of Gilbert Orchards, said the move puts both companies in a strong position for the future. “I look forward to bringing this new partnership’s scale, breadth and depth of manifest and combined capabilities to the marketplace.” 

by Kate Prengaman