Washington Fruit & Produce Co.

Washington, USA

How renowned fruit producer and distributor Washington Fruit & Produce utilizes Spectre’s highly accurate early-size and color information to inform sales, manage their inventory, and improve their time-to-market.
Simple-To-Use. Quick and Accurate Data. Faster Sales and Reduced Inventory. Easy Implementation. Increased Efficiency. Exceptional Support.
Gray and White Map showing the USA with the borders of all 50 states.
Fruit Types Apples, Cherries, and Pears
Size 10,000 acres / 4047 hectares
Using Spectre App Since 2020
Modules In Use
  • Spectre for Apples
  • Background
    Washington Fruit & Produce Co. is a family-owned business that has been operating in the Yakima Valley region of Washington State for over a century. Founded in 1916 by Fred Plath, the company started as a farm and warehouse to grow, pack, and ship tree fruit. Today, the company is a leading tree fruit producer and distributor, with operations spanning thousands of acres of orchards, packing houses, and storage facilities across the Yakima Valley and Greater Central Washington.

    Currently led by the third and fourth generation of the Plath family, Washington Fruit is well-regarded for its dedication to quality, innovation, and sustainability. As a vertically-integrated company, with state-of-the-art orchards, advanced packing houses, and temperature-controlled storage facilities, they are able to control the entire process from farm to market, ensuring the highest quality and freshness for its customers.

    The company has implemented multiple innovative practices to reduce its environmental impact, including using natural methods to control pests and diseases and implementing water conservation strategies. Additionally, the company is committed to giving back to the community, with a focus on supporting education, healthcare, and local organizations.

    Man standing in an orchard with arms folded.
    Washington Fruit bins lined up and full of green apples.
    Challenges & Solutions
    A man smiling at the camera.
    We talked to Washington Fruit's Technology Program Leader Gilbert Plath about how they use Spectre’s early-fruit sizing and color distribution data to inform their decision-making process regarding sales, storage, and packing.
    Early Fruit-Sizing Before Spectre
    Relying on field samples that are far smaller than what we get with Spectre was not ideal. Nobody really trusted the sizing sample.

    Before Spectre, our ranch managers would weigh about ten apples every day or every other day leading up to harvest. The sample would end up being about 30 or 50 apples in total, and probably not that on most occasions. In the end, getting that information all the way back to the sales team was almost not worth it because of the time it took and because nobody really trusted the sizing sample.

    The apples would be sized when we did QC samples and determined the maturity of the fruit. However, the sizing was more to get a general idea, like, is the fruit big this year? With Spectre, we've been able to get that information to sales instantly and give them a very accurate picture of the fruit that's coming off the trees and is going to be packed soon.

    Relying on field samples that are far smaller than what we get with Spectre, or even the word of the farmer, who thinks his fruit is a little bit bigger or smaller this year, was not ideal. Spectre has removed that blind spot we had at the beginning of the season.

    Hundreds of red apples in two bins.
    Apple seeds blooming white flowers and the sun in the background.
    Apples on a tree in an orchard with a bin in the background in it.
    Streamlining Operations with Spectre's Early-Fruit Sizing

    Spectre enables us to sample around 1,000 apples per block each day and share the data with the sales team for prompt selling.

    At Washington Fruit, we utilize Spectre in our orchard's loading areas to obtain size and color information about the fruit. Typically, every day that we are picking, we use Spectre to sample ten bins from each block. In total, we sample about 100 apples per bin with Spectre, which means we sample about 1,000 apples per block each day.

    The data provided by Spectre is particularly useful at the start of the packing season when we lack historical data on the fruit. With Spectre, we quickly find out the size distribution of the block. The information Spectre provides is then shared with our sales department so they can get to work selling the fruit before we’ve even packed it.
    Man holds up Hectre's Spectre to get quick size and color information.
    Hectre's Spectre takes a photo of a bin of apples to get an early size profile
    Efficient, Seamless, and Accurate Technology
    Spectre is not only incredibly fast and efficient but also impressively accurate.

    Spectre offers many benefits that have been significant for our company. Firstly, it is incredibly fast and efficient to use. For example, sampling ten bins with Spectre only takes two minutes tops, and we receive the data instantly.

    Another advantage is that Spectre is very easy to incorporate and follow through on without requiring any significant changes to our routine. For instance, as part of my routine, I visit different farms and growers, where I walk around the loading areas to check the quality of the fruit. Now I can do all that, while also snapping a picture with Spectre to get an instant size and color profile.

    We are also very impressed by Spectre’s accuracy. In the three years we have been using Spectre, we have not experienced any significant inaccuracies and have only become more and more impressed.

    The sales team also benefits from Spectre’s fast and accurate information, as it allows for faster sales, while also ensuring that packhouse inventory is kept at a minimum.

    Because Spectre is so quick and simple to use, it’s very easy to incorporate into our daily routine.
    Hundreds of green apples in a packing house pool.
    Implementation & Usability
    Spectre's data can be easily integrated into our system, and implementation is a breeze.

    With Spectre, it is not only extremely quick and easy to capture a sample and get the results, but it also works exceedingly well with our internal processes. We get a data export from Spectre every morning with the previous day's information, which plugs straight into our system. From there, we get a projection of the size of each lot or block in each room that we've got, which goes straight to the sales team.

    Implementation was also a breeze, as Spectre is not one of these technology tools that asks you to dedicate an hour every day to learn how to use it. It was as simple as giving people logins on their phones and teaching them how to take pictures of the bins. We had around 50 users across all our ranches last year and took about 16,000 pictures, so it’s absolutely been a success.

    It is also simple to see if there are any mistakes or issues, as I can view Spectre’s data from anywhere. If someone uploads a picture incorrectly, it’s quick and easy to let them know what they did wrong and how to correct the issue.
    Snow in an orchard.
    A row in an orchard with no fruit on trees.
    More Than Just Support
    What sets Hectre apart is their genuine interest in understanding our needs and the exceptional support, which are both crucial when implementing new technology.

    The support we receive from the Hectre team is exceptional. Whenever we have a question, they are quick to respond and resolve any issues. This level of support is crucial when implementing any new technology, especially when users are still learning how to use it. We have had the pleasure of working with Elizabeth, Omar, and Ali, who have all been spectacular in their support.

    One of the things that sets Hectre apart is their genuine interest in understanding our needs and addressing any issues we encounter. We appreciate the open communication we have had with the team at Hectre in identifying areas where we can get the most value from the platform and addressing any challenges we face. Our collaboration with Hectre has been highly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing our successful relationship.
    Trucks lined up at a packing facility
    An apple orchard with the sun rising in the background over the mountains.

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