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Milne Fruit Products has started the countdown for the Concord Grape harvest. All signs indicate optimism for a good yield despite a number of weather-related challenges in recent months. Milne is also conducting pilot plant trials for a revolutionary prebiotic fiber product line, and has recently launched an updated website and new overall look.

Countdown to Concord Grape Harvest

For the past 42 years Milne Fruit Products representatives have been recording vital information to predict the Concord Grape harvest and crop yields. We have monitored winter’s effect on the plants, watched buds break, counted clusters, conducted berry counts and called veraison (onset of ripening). This year’s veraison call has been completed, and we’ve calculated the yield and harvest calendar for the 2011 crop.

“The effects of the big freeze we had last November are apparent in this year’s expected crop,” said Andy Schilperoort, Milne’s grower relations manager. “Typically we see an average yield of 8.4 tons per acre.  Some areas will yield as little as 4 tons per acre.  Statewide there will be approximately 20% less Concord than average years.”

Additionally, this has been one of the coolest growing seasons ever. Schilperoort called veraison on September 7, about three weeks later than the typical year. The onset of ripening usually signals there is a month left until harvest gets underway. Schilperoort optimistically added, “The upside of having summer temperatures peaking at 90 rather than over 100 is that the berries are large, plump and healthy-looking.”

When the grapes start arriving at the production facility over the next week, Milne will process around the clock and carefully monitor product quality.

Please contact your Milne sales representative (509.786.2611) or broker to facilitate your procurement strategies.


Crop Report – A Steady Supply

Raspberries have been arriving at Milne Fruit Products over the past several months, despite a cool season that has caused delays for much of the harvest.

“Some areas started later than usual, but we have had a steady stream of raspberries arrive for processing,” said Andy Schilperoort, grower relations manager. “We’ll be getting raspberries in from northwest Washington State, southwest British Columbia and here in the Yakima Valley through the month of October.”

Schilperoort added that although cooler weather may have played a part in delaying harvests, particularly in northwestern regions, it actually has enhanced the overall quality, as hot temperatures tend to put more stress on fruit during maturation.


Innovations from R&D: Trials begin on prebiotic fiber products; Berry compounds may trigger weight loss

Milne recently presented groundbreaking research in the field of prebiotics at the 2011 International Berry Health Benefits Symposium.

Company representatives joined the world’s most renowned scientists at the event to discuss new developments in food science, including Milne’s findings in the emerging field of non-digestible food products known as prebiotics.

“We are currently conducting pilot plant trials for a revolutionary prebiotic blueberry fiber product,” reported Shannon Elkins, national sales manager. “We should begin full-scale production in a few months and plan on expanding the product line in the future with cranberry and Concord Grape fiber powders.”

Fruit fiber is typically removed during processing and used as animal feed or compost, but Milne has developed a way to recover, refine and dry this highly nutritional part of the fruit for use in food products.

“Because of its inherent water content, fruit typically has a limited range of applications,” added Eric Johnson, R&D manager. “But through this breakthrough technology, food manufacturers will be able to add natural fruit flavor and fiber into a wider variety of products including breakfast cereals, fruit pieces, bakery goods, snack chips and much more.”

Other research discussed at the conference revealed findings on how berry compounds react with bacteria in the human digestive system, affecting metabolism and weight:

    • Health benefits of consuming fruit, particularly berries, have been noted in numerous studies.
    • More and more evidence points to the role berry compounds play in adjusting the types of bacteria that inhabit the human digestive system.
    • “Bad” bacteria promote what is called metabolic disorder; this is a newly recognized chronic health state where diabetes, heart disease and digestive system disorders such as colitis can develop. “Bad” bacteria can also influence weight gain by promoting the absorption of calories from fats and proteins. “Bad” bacteria can promote general inflammation in the body, increasing the probability of cancer tumor formation and growth.
    • “Good” bacteria can reverse the effects of metabolic disorder and reverse the development of diabetes, heart disease, etc. and also promote weight loss by being very inefficient converters of fats and proteins into calories. They also seem to cause the release of small molecules that act as hormones to the brain, reducing the feeling of hunger or increasing the sense of satiety.

The scientists concluded that many of the positive effects on health that have been seen in diets heavy in berries may not be because of compounds absorbed through the digestive tract and into the blood stream (the typical pharmaceutical model), but rather because compounds in berries affect the types of bacteria inhabiting the human digestive system.


R&D Expansion Invites New Product Development

Over the years, Milne has grown as an industry leader by installing state-of-the-art equipment, adopting innovative operational procedures and expanding facilities. Milne has recently acquired a new building and is moving its Research and Development operations into that space. The building is being equipped with a bigger lab and pilot plant equipment.

“The addition of the pilot plant is expected to be a big benefit to customers who turn to Milne in the development of new products,” said Eric Johnson, R&D manager. “This small research production facility provides a cost-effective and efficient way to develop products, produce larger samples and go ‘back to the drawing board’ when necessary without expending large quantities of raw materials or time. The plant is also expected to facilitate model processes for scaling up to full production.”

Milne’s new R&D building also offers room for future expansion. It is located at 205 Hagarty Lane in Prosser, WA.


Got Questions? Sarah Barnes Can Help!

Milne Fruit Products is pleased to announce the addition of a new Sales Assistant on our Sales & Marketing staff, so that we can better respond to the needs of our customers and brokers. Sarah Barnes, who has been in another support position with the company since December 2010, was appointed to fill this new position on September 6. She will be completing sales confirmations and responding to other issues or questions that might arise, as well as providing a more immediate level of response and follow-through with your requests. You may email Sarah at or call (main line) 509.786.2611, ext. 1265 or (direct dial) 509.786.9609.

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804 Bennett Avenue • Prosser, WA 99350 USA
Phone: 509.786.2611 •  Fax: 509.786.1724