September 18th, 2023 Wenatchee, WA: In a thrilling new development four years in the making—Starr Ranch Growers/Oneonta Trading Company BB #:113637, which includes Custom Apple, Diamond Fruit and Apple King—announce an agreement has been reached to join forces with CMI Orchards BB #:134183, delivering more than 8 million cartons to CMI’s manifest.
This strategic move marks a momentous milestone in the world of fresh produce, forging a powerhouse of innovation, quality, and building on CMI’s commitment to leading the industry with the largest selection of core, organic and specialty apples, pears and cherries under one roof.
The addition of Juici and Karma apples from Starr Ranch enhances CMI’s high-flavor arsenal, which includes varieties such as Ambrosia Gold, KIKU, Kanzi, Jazz, Envy, Smitten, SugarBee, Sunrise Magic, EverCrisp, and Cosmic Crisp. In combination with core conventional varietals from Custom Apple, and organics from Apple King, the move boosts CMI’s total volume by around 4.3 million cartons of apples.
The new partnership with Diamond Fruit Growers BB #:100652 in Hood River, OR, brings an additional 2 million pear cartons into CMI’s fold, establishing CMI as the largest pear shipper globally with optical sorting technology and pre-sizing for versatility.
Hood River represents one of the three best pear growing locales around the world, and this addition means CMI now supplies pears from all three regions—Hood River (Diamond), the upper Wenatchee Valley (McDougall and Sons, Independent Warehouse and Hi-Up) and imports from Rio Negro, Argentina (Kleppe).
Along with apples and pears, CMI anticipates an additional volume of 1.8 million cartons of cherries, with more early and late season offerings.
“Extending the high-velocity cherry season means our retail partners can reap the benefits of one of the most lucrative times of year for longer and come to one place for all the very best apples and pears year-round,” explains Bob Mast, President of CMI Orchards.
Jim Thomas, owner of Custom Apple Packing and Chairman of Starr Ranch shares his excitement about the partnership. “After 90 cherished years nurturing the Starr Ranch community of growers, team members, and customers with unwavering integrity, the visionary path forward is unmistakable clear—uniting with CMI Orchards. This forward-thinking collaboration has been a long time in the making, promising unprecedented benefits and a bright future for our growers and retail partners.”
Thomas extends heartfelt gratitude to Starr Ranch CEO Don Odegard for his guidance and dedication during this pivotal transition period, laying a solid foundation for prosperous times ahead.
“As we transition, the seasoned leadership of Bob Mast, who has guided CMI Orchards with distinction for over a decade, instills great confidence in what lies ahead,” Thomas said. “United, the CMI and Starr Ranch teams herald a future brimming with potential, grounded in a shared vision of success, innovation, and diligence. 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.”
Bryon McDougall, Chairperson of CMI Orchards, expresses his excitement about collaborating with the esteemed Thomas family of Starr Ranch Growers, envisioning a golden chapter ahead for CMI. “We hold Jim Thomas and the Thomas family in the highest regard,” says McDougall. “Uniting with a company of Starr Ranch’s stature—a true powerhouse that has significantly shaped the tree fruit industry—not only marks the onset of an exhilarating new chapter for CMI but symbolizes a partnership rooted in deep respect, integrity and a shared vision for the future.”
“Customers, partners, and fruit enthusiasts can expect an even greater focus on quality, sustainability, and customer satisfaction, all while meeting CMI’s outstanding standard of service,” adds Mast. “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, allowing us to drive innovation like never before.”
About CMI Orchards
CMI Orchards is one of Washington State’s largest growers, shippers, and packers of premium-quality conventional and organic apples, pears, and cherries. Based in Wenatchee, WA, CMI Orchards delivers outstanding fruit across the U.S.A. and exports to over 60 countries worldwide. www.cmiorchards.com