Red Jacket turns focus to juice, cider

Red Jacket Orchards sees a big future in the juice and cider products that are giving the Geneva company a national reputation.

The company has invested in a state-of-the-art bottling facility to support that business, built on the apples and other fruits Red Jacket grows on 600 acres along the hillsides of Seneca Lake.

But Red Jacket is also a leader in the fresh apple business, which has undergone significant changes over the past few years to improve product, efficiency and gain customers across the state, region and even world.

Today’s competitors could be as close as a few miles down the road or as far away as Poland.

New York’s apple producers have been investing heavily in state-of-the-art fruit-packing and storage facilities that are beyond anything farmers generations ago could have imagined. All with the goal of offering great products year-round and to markets beyond anything that might have been envisioned decades ago.

Red Jacket Orchards, said co-owner Brian Nicholson, has every intention of being one of those players, even with its juice lines getting so much attention these days.

“Our fresh Red Jacket brand (apples) is accelerating,” said Nicholson. “We hold those (products) equal.”

However, Brian Nicholson and brother and co-owner, Mark Nicholson, had a decision to make: Invest in similar pricey apple-packing technology or join forces with the folks who have already spent millions making the investment.

Red Jacket chose the latter.

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