Jul 5, 2019Sparta’s Elite Apple doubles packing capacity; will sell through alliance
Sales consolidation continues in the Michigan apple industry, as Michigan Fresh Marketing and BelleHarvest’s newly-formed joint sales alliance adds some supply volume.
Elite Apple of Sparta has contractually committed to pack 500,000 cartons, which is estimated at roughly half their 2019 projected volume, to the joint sales group that was recently established in June, according to a news release from BelleHarvest and Michigan Fresh Marketing.
“After having more than doubled our packing capacity, we’ve decided to add Michigan Fresh and BelleHarvest to our sales group,” said Elite Apple Partner Rich Kent. “Just in the last month, Elite has added a second packing line to their facility. With the additional packing capability, Elite Apple can seamlessly meet retail demand and maintain an edge in the marketplace.”
Elite partner Ken Hubert added the move allows the company the versatility to pursue larger programs for sustained periods of time, in order to keep up with retail consolidation and industry changes.
Michigan Fresh Marketing and BelleHarvest, which are based in Grand Rapids, are marketing themselves as “the second-largest Michigan Apple sales organization for the 2019 apple season.” They project to sell more than three million cartons in the upcoming season. The joint sales venture now covers eight packing facilities throughout Michigan and Wisconsin.
“We are looking at a favorable apple crop in the Midwest and are excited to work with the exceptional team and partners at Elite,” Michigan Fresh CEO Joe D’Ottavio said in the news release.
Riveridge and Jack Brown Produce. Sparta-based Riveridge Produce Marketing announced in January 2019 it had purchased Jack Brown Produce’s brand and fresh-pack sales operation, positioning it to sell roughly half of Michigan’s fresh apples.
Also in January, a new company, Applewood Fresh Growers, was launched in Sparta. Applewood Fresh Growers is a grower, packer, shipper and marketer of Michigan apples with a network of predominantly family-owned orchards with more than 11,000 acres.