Rice Fruit Company Celebrates 110 Years

The Rice Fruit Company team.
Originally printed in the July 2023 issue of Produce Business.

The fresh produce industry is made of a patchwork of family narratives, telling the history of founding farmers who took risks that are paying dividends to their heirs decades later. Rice Fruit Company is one of those family stories.

Daniel Rice, a young German immigrant, arrived in Adams County, PA, in the 1790s. Like other small farmers in the area, Rice and his descendants cultivated apple trees in the scenic foothills of the easternmost ridge of the Appalachians, a microclimate that would prove fruitful for generations to come. Nurturing the fruits of their labor proved beneficial for the family, and in 1913, Arthur Rice built the family’s first packinghouse in Biglerville, PA. Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, Rice Fruit Company expanded to ship apples all over the world. In the 1950s, a new packinghouse was built, which is still the heart and soul of the company.

Today, Rice Fruit Company remains dedicated to growing, packing, and shipping sweet-natured fruit to consumers near and far.

Rice Fruit Company is steadfast in its commitment to innovation and utilizing the best technology for shipping quality fruit. Passing that passion and dedication along to the next generation has taken an expanded scope in the context of the climate change crisis.

Founded in 1913, Pennsylvania-based Rice Fruit Company now ships apples all over the world. This 1988 photo spotlights brothers John (left) and David Rice, father of current president, Ben Rice.

“Rice Fruit is committed to delivering fruit at the height of freshness,” says President and Chief Executive Ben Rice. “Our proximity to buyer customers also ensures a reduced carbon footprint, preserving the freshness of the fruit and our heritage of delivering quality and consistency to our customers with each and every apple.”

Along with their “green roof” and solar panel array, a recent pilot project pollinator garden illustrates Rice Fruit’s commitment to its values. The team has built a thriving habitat for honeybees, butterflies, bats, and other insects that feed on invasive species affecting fruit trees. The project introduced an educational opportunity, highlighting Rice Fruit’s responsibility to healthy ecological practices critical to delivering produce from the farm to supermarket shelves.

What has set Rice Fruit apart from its competition for more than a century? People.

“While excellent quality and honest business form the core of our identity, our unwavering commitment to kindness toward people truly sets us apart,” Rice adds. “We understand that dedicated employees, loyal customers, and supportive communities are behind every successful endeavor. Growing and sustaining relationships with our growers, customers and the consumer are the foundation we’re built on.”

“We are all working together for the common good of feeding one another, a model that will bring us to our next milestone anniversary.”