MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Cucumber growers are in a pickle with the impending closure of a processing plant in Portland and a decision by the owner to stop buying pickle cukes in the Pacific Northwest.
Starting this year, pickles made by Bay Valley Foods of Green Bay, Wis., the nation’s largest pickle and pepper supplier and a division of TreeHouse Foods Inc. of Westchester, Ill., will come from other parts of the U.S. and as far away as India, company officials said.
Many of Bay Valley’s pickles are sold under the Nalley, Farman’s and Steinfeld’s labels, which bear slogans touting the “Down home taste of the Northwest since 1918,” “Delicious taste of the Northwest since 1944” and “Quality brand of the Northwest since 1922,” respectively.
Last year, TreeHouse reported that pickles, including the Heifetz and Peter Piper’s labels, accounted for 28.5 percent of its nearly $1.2 billion in net sales.
The Portland plant will close in June, a month before harvesting begins, because the operation is no longer economical, said Ron Bottrell, a Bay Valley spokesman.
With that move “they decided they could get cucumbers cheaper elsewhere,” said Don Kruse ,of La Conner, a farmer who estimates he will lose half of his gross annual income – a few hundred thousand dollars.