January 2020 – Letter From COO Greg Thorsgard
After nine months with Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, I’m excited to report an excellent and smooth 2019. We are expecting continued growth in the New Year by adding to our grower memberships and the Oregon Orchard® brand.
I think the most exciting event this past year was when our state-of-the-art Donald processing facility received SQF Level 3 certification in just nine months. This is truly a record in the food processing industry because approximately 12 percent of SQF plants can achieve Level 3 certification.
This year’s harvest season we expected a reduction in production of about 15% compared to the hazelnuts processed from HGO members in 2018. The weather conditions all year were very good for nut growing; the periodic rains during the summer and fall were ideal growing conditions for hazelnuts.
The new Oregon Orchard® Seasoned Snacks hit the shelves this summer and they are moving off the shelves very well. In fact, they are currently being sold at the Hazelnut Marketplace in Donald as well as at about 200 Safeway, Albertsons and Bi-Mart stores throughout the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about these new products at www.oregonorchard.com.
This past harvest was the first time in history that HGO received more Jefferson’s than Barcelona’s. The Barcelona’s are an older variety, which are more susceptible to Eastern Filbert Blight. The Jefferson variety was developed at Oregon State University and released in 2009. Jefferson is the very first variety released from OSU that has the “gasaway” gene. This gene has resistance to EFB. With the Barcelona acreage decreasing and Jefferson acreage increasing, we expect this trend to continue in the coming years. As for our goals and outlook for 2020, we’re expecting a significant increase in hazelnut volume this year. In fact, we’re expecting a record crop.
Greg Thorsgard, COO