As part of a strategic growth strategy, Richland Hills, a Wisconsin based apple grower and processor, has recently finalized a rebranding effort that included renaming the company Richland Hills Farms to best reflect what the company does and where it’s going along with the introduction of its new Honeycrisp sliced apples and additional peeled and sliced apple packages, say company officials.
“For over two decades we’ve been more than a grower, we’ve been an early adopter in the fresh cut apples business,” says Sarah Cottrill, vice president of sales and marketing for Richland Hills Farms. “It’s this part of our business that has built us a reputation for great fresh cut apples, but people often overlook that we are growers first. The renaming to include Farms in our name is a reminder to our customers that we are more than a manufacturer—we are also the farmer.”
The move not just for renaming, but for rebranding marks the next step in the continued growth of this family company into the retail arena, company officials add. Richland Hills Farms has focused nearly exclusively on institutional foodservice sales since its inception. During that time they have grown from local to regional, servicing the upper Midwest and providing fresh sliced apples to schools, hospitals, restaurants and more, but those apples have been packed in individual packs and bulk packaging with limited branding.
“As we began to talk about our future we felt that the next logical step for our company was to add retail packaging to our sales program,” says Cottrill. “But we understand that the market already has good suppliers so we focused on getting back to our roots and doing what we do best; we couldn’t just be another sliced apple—we had to be different and better.”
Those roots have taken Richland Hills Farms back to where they started and where they remain, Wisconsin. Starting in September, different and better for Richland Hills Farms will include the rollout of locally grown sliced apple products grown and processed in Wisconsin, as well as the introduction of their signature Honeycrisp sliced apples.
“Honeycrisp apples were first on our list when we decided to consider retail," Cottrill says. "Not only are Honeycrisp apples beloved in the Midwest—data proves that both sales dollars and volume are growing at a double digit rate for this premium apple, yet the sliced apple category for Honeycrisp has been virtually untouched.
“Honeycrisp will be our signature item, but our retail program will be about local first. Locally grown is not a trend, it’s a reality. People want to know where their food comes from and who grows it," Cottrill adds. "They want sustainable solutions that offer value in the form of health, cost and quality, and we can deliver that with our locally grown and produced products."
Sliced apple products including the Honeycrisp apples slices will be available from Richland Hills Farm starting in September 2016. The new packaging which showcases a modern design includes classic elements like wood grain and watercolor style artwork to harken toward the farm fresh appeal. The new packaging and products will include 14-ounce family size bags and 6 count clamshells containing 2-ounce single serve bags each with 21 day shelf life.
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