For many decades, the area around Sebastopol, CA where North Coast Organic is located, was known as “apple country”. In the 1940s, nearly 15,000 acres of apple orchards blanketed Sonoma County, growing to over 22,000 acres in the 1980’s. But in the last few decades, this has all changed. Where once apple trees lined both sides of West County’s Gravenstein Highway as far as the eye could see, many of the former apple orchards have been replanted with wine grapes. The rise of the local wine industry made it more profitable for many apple growers to turn their rich agricultural land from orchards into vineyards.
A second force has also come into play – the low cost of apples imported into the United States from other nations, including China. According to an article published in Smithsonian, California’s Disappearing Apple Orchards, Chile, New Zealand and Australia all export either fresh apples or apple juice concentrate to the United States. But, the biggest exporter into the US is China.
In the early 1990s, China produced about the same amount of apples as the US. But by 2010, Chinese apples amounted to 36 million tons–roughly half of all apples grown on earth. China’s apples have been barred from import into the United States, but unfortunately, not its apple juice concentrate. China is now the world’s largest exporter of apple juice concentrate, and its biggest buyer is the United States. In fact, two-thirds of all apple juice consumed in the US is made with China’s concentrate. Scary, right?
The impact on our local apple growers of encroaching vineyards and apple juice concentrate from China has been devastating. Not only did acres of apple orchards disappear, many of the more than a dozen apple processing facilities that purchased apples from Sonoma County farmers went under.
By 2004, Manzana Products Company, which makes North Coast Organic, was the last apple processor in the area.
North Coast Organic is turning that around
Now, the trend of transforming orchards into vineyards around Sebastopol is beginning to turn around. More and more consumers have come to appreciate the benefits of organic apples and the healthy foods that can be made from them. As their desire for our products, including apple sauces, ciders and vinegars has grown, so has our need for local organic apples. As a result, many of the nearby growers who may have needed to turn to producing grapes are, instead, planting more organic apple orchards. About 85 percent of Sonoma County’s apple acres are currently organic, according to the county agricultural commissioner’s office. The shift to organic provides growers higher payments for their fruit.
Innovation is at the heart of everything we do
Innovation is one of the major reasons that Manzana Products Company has been able to thrive over the years. Early on, we recognized the national movement toward eating organic foods and began using only USDA certified organic apples in our products. As the desire for healthy convenience foods has caught on, we have begun packaging our apple sauces in pouches that are easy to eat on the go. And, we are constantly trying out new flavors of juices and sauces to satisfy our customers’ cravings. For instance, we are the only company today that produces organic single varietal apple juices. This enables us to offer our customers a variety of wonderful apple products that they won’t find anywhere else.
North Coast Organic is proud to be located in Sonoma County, where we have been an integral part of the Sebastopol Community since 1922. We look forward to many more years working with our local growers to continue delivering the freshest, best tasting organic apple products available.
North Coast Organic apple products are made in Sebastopol, CA from U.S. grown certified organic apples. They contain no added sugars, preservatives, colorings or flavorings.