Rice Fruit History

Born in the picturesque foothills of rural Adams County, Rice Fruit Company is located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s apple country.  Rice Fruit Company receives, stores, packages and markets fruit for over 40 farm families in the surrounding areas.

Rice Fruit Company Barn from 1700's

Rice Fruit Company is a family run business, which was founded in 1913 by Arthur Rice.  The history goes back to around 1790 when Daniel Rice, the first member of the Rice family to settle in Adams County, arrived as a young German immigrant.  He recognized that the scenic foothills of the South Mountain, the eastern-most ridge of the Appalachians, had ideal soils and a perfect climate for growing many kinds of fruit…especially apples.  For another four generations, the Rice family continued to plant orchards as the notoriety of Adams County grown fruit began to spread.  The first packing house was built in 1913 (in Biglerville, PA) and throughout the 20’s and 30’s, Rice Fruit Company continued to ship apples all over the world.  In 1955, Arthur Rice, Jr., built a new (the current) packing facility located in Gardners, PA. Arthur Rice, Jr. also formed a partnership with William Lott, to form R&L Orchards, which grew most of the fruit packed by Rice Fruit Company.  The partnership between the Rice and Lott families continues to this day.

Until recently, Rice Fruit Company was managed by Arthur Jr’s four sons, David, Ted, John and Mark. Today, Rice is collaboratively managed by all branches of the company.

In January 2018, Brenda Briggs was named Vice President of Sales and Marketing, taking over for John Rice who has embraced a fruitful retirement.  And just as the weather changes with the seasons, the last decade has been one of family transition as well.  Ben Rice, Emily Rice-Townsend and Leighton Rice joined Rice Fruit Company as the 8th generation of family to run the business.  In September 2018, Ben Rice was elected President of Rice Fruit Company, succeeding his father David Rice.  Ben works alongside David to manage packing operations for the entire plant.  Leighton Rice manages the Quality Control Program and Emily Rice-Townsend manages all business relations.  They have taken great strides to take the company into the future.

Rice Fruit Company takes great pride in selling one of the first whole foods that nature made.  In the 100+ years that Rice Fruit Company has been marketing fruit, they have been diligent in moving forward and embracing new technologies, while also staying true to their valued heritage.  Being a leader comes with great responsibility, not just to the produce industry, but for the company and future generations.