Tree Top, Inc. is an agricultural cooperative owned by over 1,000 growers throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.
Founded in 1960 as an apple processor, Tree Top now processes almost every fruit under the sun. They operate eight facilities that take fruit from nearby fields and orchards to produce a variety of quality fruit-based products.
Over a half a century ago, Bill Charbonneau, his wife and two sons moved from California to the Yakima Valley and purchased a small apple processing plant on Produce Row in Selah, Washington. In 1946, Bill held an employee contest to name his premium juice. Employees believed the best fruit came from the top of the tree, and so the Tree Top brand was born.
To differentiate his juice from others, Bill sought the expertise of global experts in fruit processing. One of those experts was Carl Weisbrod, who has been credited with developing the process of making a shelf stable apple juice. Charbonneau also bought the first U.S. patent rights to a clear apple juice process developed in Switzerland.
Jumpstarting the cooperative
Not too long after Bill officially named his company Tree Top, a group of apple growers got together to form the cooperative and to purchase Charbonneau’s company, along with the Tree Top brand name.
Tree Top’s cooperative growers were motivated to come together as a means of transforming excess and unattractive fruit into delicious products for families to enjoy. Today, they still save ugly and excess fruit – more than 800 million pounds each year. While apples and pears remain Tree Top’s primary focus, they’ve expanded their expertise and capabilities across numerous varieties and produce products ranging from cereals, baby food and snacks to dairy treats, pet food and more.
Commitment to quality
Moving forward, Bill’s discriminating standards continued to set Tree Top apart from competitors. He was a stickler for great tasting juice. So much so, that he positioned his office within the juicing facility so he could personally oversee its making.
Every time a batch of apples was pressed, a sample was brought to Bill to taste. If the juice did not meet his approval, they started again. Today, Tree Top retains the only trained taste panel in the apple juice industry to uphold their discriminating standard for great taste.
Today, Tree Top producers harvest at the peak of freshness. With facilities all over the Western United States, they are strategically located close to where the fruit is grown, allowing the freshest ingredients to produce the freshest projects for customers.
Northwest Farm Credit Services is proud to partner with Tree Top.