About Broetje Orchards
Throughout November, we are featuring the gluten-friendly Smoked Turkey & Spinach Salad w/ Almonds tossed with diced apples, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, smoked turkey, and spinach in a honey mustard dressing. Opal® apples will be used in all California and Arizona restaurants. Gala apples from other suppliers will be used in the salad in all other locations around the country. “Opal apples are relatively new in the market and we’re testing using them in our California and Arizona restaurants in November. If this goes well, we will try to have these apples available system wide next year,” says Susan Hoffman, Vice President of Fresh Procurement and Menu Innovation.
Opal apples, first developed in the Czech Republic in 1999, and now grown by Broetje Orchards in Washington State. Broetje Orchards, is one of the largest privately owned apple orchards in the country with more than 17 varieties of apples, pears, and cherries across over 6,000 acres. Opal apples are a combination of Topaz and Golden Delicious, and Broetje Orchards obtained the exclusive rights to grow the new variety of apple in 2010.
Ralph Broetje was 15 in 1960, when he had a dream of owning an apple orchard that would be able to help feed kids in need after hearing a missionary from India speak. In 1982, Ralph and his wife, Cheryl moved to Prescott, Washington where the main orchard is located and one of the largest contiguous orchard in the U.S.
Broetje Orchards is a vertically integrated company as grower, packer, and shipper all on one site since 1987. After the fruit has been picked, it is taken to the 1.1 million sq. ft. state-of- the-art warehouse to be packed. The warehouse and packing facilities add to their 11 million sq. ft. controlled atmosphere and cold storage space. With a total of 12 million sq. ft. of storage and packing, fruit that was harvest in the morning is in a controlled atmosphere room the same day. 28,000 boxes of apples can be pack daily, with a total of five million per year.
Broetje Orchards follow rigorous standards and are committed to ensuring food safety from field to warehouse to retailer. One example where they reduce the use of pesticides is by participating in a raptor relocation program where birds of prey live on the orchards to help reduce the population of birds and mice, which can damage their apple and cherry crops. They have a traceability system to pinpoint where the apples were grown. They also measure environmental sustainability by paying attention to their energy and chemical use, water, and recycling.
Ralph and Cheryl have built a successful business and couldn’t have done it without their employees. In 1990, the company created the Vista Hermosa community to provide affordable and quality housing to their employees and their families. With 2,800 employees during harvest time, it makes Broetje
Orchards the largest employer in Walla Walla County.
According to FirstFresh Marketing, the exclusive distributor of Opal apples in the U.S., the Opal is the first U.S. apple variety to be verified by the Non-GMO Project, the only independent verification in North America for non-GMO food.
To learn more about Broetje Orchards, visit www.firstfruits.com