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Bagged apple slices reach for the gold

Crunch Pak came through a winner at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The Wenatchee, WA, apple processor shipped 200ꯠ 2-oz bags of apple slices in sweet and tart varieties in February to Salt Lake City that were used by volunteers, staff, media, and athletes throughout all venues.

Pw 15647 Apples

The slices were packaged on low-profile EaglePack (Oakland, CA) Phaser® vertical form/fill/seal machinery, designed to minimize bruising (see feature, p.70). Materials specs are considered proprietary, but the bag film and graphics are the company’s usual 2-oz size. The company also bags slices in 6-oz, 1-lb, and 3-lb sizes. The five or six slices in each 2-oz bag are treated with an all-natural vitamin-mineral solution that prevents browning. All that combines with an ultra-sanitary facility to yield a contact-coded 21-day refrigerated use-by date.

The bagged slices, which sell at Albertson’s stores in the Salt Lake City area, found their way into the hands of the organizers.

“The apple slices were a hit with them,” relates Crunch Pak general manager Tony Freytag. “Then Don Pritchard [director of food services for the Olympic Games] got in touch with us to supply product for the Games.”

“The product was selected for a number of reasons,” responds Pritchard. “There’s no waste with a product like this. We didn’t want apple cores or banana peels or orange peels strewn around. We looked at other snack products, but felt that people working outdoors would feel good about a natural product. Sliced apples are certainly a grab-and-go fruit.”

Security at the Olympics was very interesting to say the least, Freytag notes, including checks of ingredients, additives, and packaging: “We had to provide samples of the shipping containers and not deviate from that. There was plenty of paperwork.”

The company Web site is printed on the front of the bags. “We received a tremendous response from the Olympic exposure,” he states. “We went from 50-plus hits daily to a peak of 1ꯠ-plus hits per day during the Olympics.” Although the hits have since backed off, they remain above pre-Olympics levels, which he also attributes to Crunch Pak’s expanding markets. —RL

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