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May 03, 2011

Elgin brings home 1st Chilean harvest

I thought this tidbit about Newton's favorite fruit was interesting.

I admit that I had no idea that Elgin-based Wescott had such a strong international reach.

And because of all the news in today's print edition, this column was cut back quite a bit for space reasons. So for any of my blog readers that want more than just a slice of the apple, here's the full manzana:


Fresh Honeycrisp apples from South America rolling onto produce shelves this month grew from roots in an Elgin orchard, at least figuratively.

Through its Honeybear Brands division, Elgin-based Wescott Agri Products is putting its first harvest of Honeycrisp apples from Chile onto U.S. grocery shelves this May.

"We are heavily involved in the Southern Hemisphere. We're not just a couple Minnesota orchards," says Fred Wescott, president of Wescott Agri Products.

Wescott's Honeybear Brands provides apples to many national retailers yearound.

About 10 years ago when the climate-specific and hard-to-grow Honeycrisp variety grew in popularity, Honeybear Brands started developing in Chile.
"We’re proud to be the first grower in the industry to recognize the potential for the southern hemisphere’s Honeycrisp,” he says.
After years of looking for just the right location to grow the apple developed at the University of Minnesota, Wescott's team found it in the southern part of Chile so that it could provide apples during more parts of the year.

This year's batch is the first, limited harvest from trees up to 3 years old. Why go to such extremes to grow an apple that grows well here?

"It is about providing the consumer the best fruit at any time of year," says Wescott.The Chilean Honeycrisps will go on sale at U.S. stores from May to July.
Apples grown in the Elgin area hit shelves from September to November. Those are sold under the Mississippi Valley Fruit Co. brand.
"We believe the fruit from this region is unique and we want shoppers to know that it comes from here," he says.
His operation also includes other U.S. growing sites, including the state of Washington.Those Honeybear apples add to the cycle of peak fruit going to retail customers.
About 45 to 70 employees work in Elgin and another four are based at a sales office in Minneapolis. The Washington facility employs 30 to 40 staffers.
Some of the new Chilean Honeycrisps should be on sale in Rochester, although it's up to each grocery chain to decide which individual stores will stock the apples.


Never quite as good as from Minnesota. Minnesota Honeycrisp, just have that something extra.

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