Tree Top Chairman discusses consumer trends and reaction from Selah-based company | Local


Generations of families have enjoyed the apple juice and applesauce created by Tree Top Inc. But as times and tastes change, the Selah-based company adds seltzer water, protein and even pumpkin flavored products to his list.

New products and major changes to his Prosser plant were among things Tree Top President and CEO Craig Green shared with about 1,200 attendees at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association annual meeting. last week at the Yakima Convention Center.

“Our staples – apple juice, applesauce, (flavorings for) Pop-Tarts are still important, but consumer preferences have changed,” Green said. “We are going to create more brands. “

Green, who succeeded Tom Hurson, President and CEO of Tree Top in August, listed seven factors in consumer preferences that most attendees “and certainly not our mothers” took into account during the meeting. food purchase:

  • Little sweet
  • Portability
  • Clean label
  • Protein
  • Local procurement
  • Herbal
  • Functional advantages

A “clean label,” Green said, means a list with fewer ingredients and few or no unrecognizable ingredients. And functional benefits mean a food that will act as a medicine or provide other benefits besides food.

Apples, of course, are high in sugar (but also high in fiber). They don’t have protein. But that doesn’t mean apples, pears and other fruits can’t be among the products that meet consumer demands, Green said at the Tree Fruit Convention.

“Consumer trends (low in sugar, portability, high protein items) are driving our desire to provide healthy options outside of our usual apple juice and applesauce offerings,” Green said in an e- mail following his remarks. “We can do this using apples and / or pears as the main ingredients, but also using other fruits and vegetables as well as vegan proteins and whey.

“Apples and / or pears, when combined with other fruits and vegetables, lower the natural sugar content per serving. These healthy products will be minimally processed, portable, have clean labels and use 100% natural ingredients, ”he said. “These will be the types of items that pre-teens, teens and adults will all appreciate.”

A recently introduced Tree Top product that Green pointed out is Fruit + Water, which is all natural, contains 50% fruit juice and has no added sugar.

“Fruit + Water has been on the shelves for about eight months,” Green told the Herald-Republic. “It’s available in single-serve pouches (with straws) as well as a 64-ounce multi-serving option. Current flavors are apple, berry, fruit punch, grape and tropical.

“Our Fruit + Water sachets have been well received by consumers and demand continues to increase,” added Green.

Other novelties

While Fruit + Water isn’t much different from Tree Top’s flagship apple juice, a few other new products raised eyebrows when they were mentioned at the tree fruit convention.

Sun Smash Fruited Hard Seltzer is Tree Top’s answer to White Claw. Canned drinks come in four flavors: mango peach, pineapple passion fruit, prickly pear lime and blackcurrant. A “Sun Smash Mix Pack” packs three cans of each flavor together.

The product is available in the liquor section of Wray’s and other stores in central Washington, Green said. This is the only hard seltzer on the market that uses real fruit juice, as listed on the top of the box.

Tree Top fruit puree flavored products range from baby and pet food to yogurt, but the biggest buyer of apples in North America is also making room for pumpkin, Green said at the convention.

The pumpkin flavor directly aligns with consumer trends and can be used in a number of products for humans and their pets, he said.

Finally, Green said 2022 will see the launch of another new Tree Top brand, which he has declined to name for now.

“It will be launched in the next 12 months,” he said, “and will be in a pocket – a fruit product with protein.”

Prosser plant to expand

Green also mentioned an upcoming change at its West Coast plants that was previously announced in July: Tree Top is moving its mash operations from Medford, Oregon to Prosser in 2023.

This decision will upgrade Prosser’s Tree Top factory processes with state-of-the-art equipment and bring manufacturing closer to fruit sources, resulting in additional production capacity, the ability to meet changing customer requirements, reduced transportation costs and improved manufacturing efficiency. , said company officials.

“This will allow Tree Top to compete effectively on a global scale with other growers. It will also improve operational stability and create growth opportunities across the company, ”then CEO Hurson said in a company statement. “We believe this decision is vital to Tree Top’s continued growth and our ability to produce quality food that we will proudly share with our friends and family.”

“As Tree Top moves its operations from Medford to Prosser, Medford growers today are a vital part of our plan and we will continue to do business with them,” Green said last week.

Medford employees will have the option to relocate to the Prosser factory or apply / relocate to any location within the company and continue their roles with Tree Top.

The Prosser plant has 100 employees and this move will add approximately 40 new positions in 2023.

Demand for mash has grown steadily over the past few years, with many domestic mash customers seeking U.S.-based suppliers due to the food safety and supply chain benefits, the company noted in its release. .

Tree Top is a 700 member producer owned cooperative formed in 1960 in Selah. Employing approximately 1,000 people, the company produces premium juices, fruit products and ingredients for consumers and many of the world’s leading food and beverage manufacturers.


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