KEEPING IT CRISP. After years of research, Crunch Pak devised a way to slice and package apples so they would remain fresh well beyond picking. (Washing them in Vitamin C and calcium helps.)
Crunch Pak, Cashmere
Serving apple slices wouldn’t seem to leave a lot of room for innovation. Crunch Pak wouldn’t agree. The company, launched in 2000 by a group of apple growers, came up with a way to vacuum-pack apple slices, then added to its line of convenient snack packages by pairing apples with peanut butter, cheese with grapes, carrots with dip and devising many more combinations.
Product innovation has allowed the company, with processing plants in Cashmere and Selah, to build both retail and food-service operations. And with food safety a growing concern and regulators expecting more from producers, Crunch Pak has been a leader on that issue as well. Instead of having just one person trained in the tougher federal rules, Crunch Pak put more than 100 employees through food-safety training courses.
Johnson Foods, Sunnyside
If pickled vegetables and maraschino cherries top your shopping list for gourmet items, a Yakima Valley food processor could have a big role in getting the party started. Johnson Foods began as a fresh-asparagus packer, added cherries in the ’70s and ’80s, then began selling pickled vegetables in the ’90s.
Today, the company’s products are used or sold by such companies as McDonald’s, Amazon, Costco, Walmart, Yoplait and Danone. Johnson Foods also sells under its own brand name, Princess Pickled Vegetables.