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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Washington Apple Industry Loses Organic Sales Pioneer

Yakima, WA – Matt Miles, 49, long-time organic salesman in the Washington apple industry, passed peacefully Dec 7th.

A 27-year veteran of the apple industry Miles made a name for himself in organic apple sales dating back to 1997 with a variety of companies like FirstFruits Marketing & L&M Northwest.

Graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Agricultural Economics, Matt kicked off his sales career with C.H. Robinson and quickly saw the growing opportunity in organics. He recognized that organics would be the future and began to cultivate relationships with the organic growing community. 

Thanks to his exceptional mathematical and analytical skills Matt was known for developing predictive data models for both retailers and growers. Those same skills, along with his expert data stories also were the backbone of his yearly “state of the organic apple” presentation that growers looked forward to.

From his earliest days on this sales desk, he understood that organics weren’t just another PLU or another box of fruit, it was a story rooted in sustainability and a value-added opportunity for the growers.  “When Matt came to L&M Northwest in 2005, we had a one grower organic program,” remembers Andy Tudor, then director at L&M.  Tudor continued, “Within 3 years, Matt had tripled the size of our program and increased grower returns thanks to his meticulous planning and industry understanding that had allowed him to map industry growth and plan for utilization.”

It seems it was that unwavering attention to detail and commitment to organics that also had others remembering his wins. Lon Hudson, formerly of Peterson Fruit and current sales manager at FirstFruits Marketing commented, “Matt and I started working together in the 1990s, when I was at Peterson Fruit and Matt built a new program of certified organic growers.” Hudson continued,” Although Matt was a salesman, he put growers first and their loyalty to him showed as those growers followed him to every organization, he worked at helping both the growers and his organization win in the organic space.”

As friends and family shared stories, loyalty was at the core of who Matt was; to his wife and daughters as a husband and father, to his family and neighbors who he was always there for, to the growers, co-workers and customers that called him a friend. Everyone said the same thing, “If you called, Matt would be there to help, and he will be deeply missed by everyone.

Matt is survived by his wife Kristi, daughters Ashley and Sydney, his parents and one brother. Memorial services will be at a later date.

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