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Canadian Group Takes a
Bite Out of WA Apple Industry

by Staff
My Columbia Basin, February 15, 2019

(Bob Brawdy photo) Workers at Broetje Orchards pick apples in 2013 near Prescott, Wash. An immigration official said Thursday that the government found last year the company employed nearly 950 immigrants who lack proper work authorization. PRESCOTT, Washington -- Broetje Orchards, one of the largest family-owned-and-operated apple companies in Washington State, has been acquired by a Canadian-based pension fund.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, based in Toronto, purchased Broetje Orchards in a $288 million deal (according to public records) that closed in late December.

"Broetje Orchards is a strong strategic fit for our natural resources portfolio, providing a large-scale asset with direct exposure to a staple component of the food basket," Senior Manager Pav Jordan said.

Ralph and Cheryl Broetje built Broetje Orchards into one of the nation’s largest, vertically-integrated apple companies over a 35-year period. The company grows, packs and ships close to 7 million boxes of apples a year, including the proprietary Opal apple.

"We are looking forward to maintaining the legacy established by the Broetje’s to focus on growing quality apples and investing in our people," Jim Hazen, chief executive officer and president of FirstFruits Farms, LLC said.

Broetje Orchards markets fruit under the FirstFruits Farms brand and grows over 15 varieties of apples, and cherries spread across over 6,000 acres in Eastern Washington.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan manages the pensions for approximately 323,000 active and retired elementary and high school teachers in Ontario, Canada. The organization has existing agriculture investments in the U.S. and owns an agricultural portfolio that includes almonds, avocados and dates.

Related Pages:
Sale of Broetje Orchards Creates FirstFruits Farms by Jonelle Mejica, Good Fruit Grower, 2/27/19
Workers File Class-action Suit Against Broetje Orchards by Tony Buhr, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 5/18/18
U.S. Apple Orchard Fined US$2.25M for Hiring 'Unauthorized' Workers by Staff, Fresh Fruit Portal, 6/10/15
Broetje Orchards Puts People Before Profits by Stan Friedman, The Christian Century, 11/18/8
Irrigation from 4 Lower Snake Reservoirs by Reed Burkholder, Fact Sheet 1993

Canadian Group Takes a Bite Out of WA Apple Industry
My Columbia Basin, February 15, 2019

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