Michigan apple growers are moving on from a 2012 season they’d like to forget, and the Michigan Apple Committee, Lansing, has plenty planned to help them do just that.
“We’ve had a lot of retail visits,” Diane Smith, executive director of the committee, said June 6.
“They’re excited to have us back, and we’re excited to be back. We expect a great quality crop. Weather has been cooperating.”
That wasn’t the case last year when frost and drought limited the state’s production to less than 4 million bushels. Michigan, the nation’s third-largest source of apples, typically grows more than 20 million bushels a year.
An official crop outlook won’t be available until August, but sources said the state is expecting excellent quality and volume.
Joe Santoro, area supervisor and buyer for independent retailer Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace, St. Clair Shores, Mich., said in early June that consumers already are asking about a crop that won’t arrive until late August.
“People are eager for local fruit after last year,” said Barry Winkel, part owner of Greg Orchards & Produce Inc., Benton Harbor, Mich. “That is a big deal.”
The apple committee plans to make a big deal out of local, promoting Michigan apples as such not only in Michigan but also in neighboring Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin as well as nearby Illinois.
“We’re going to continue to work the locally grown program,” Smith said. “It’s been a great initiative for Michigan apples. We’re within 500 miles of half the U.S. population and half its income. It gives us unique advantage.”
The Michigan Apple Committee will work with grower-shippers and retailers to promote a locally grown sweepstakes from September through November in those five states. Information on contest specifics will be available to consumers on apple bag closures.
Winners will receive a two-night stay for two people at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Mich., a spa package and their choice of either four all-day ski lift tickets or four rounds of golf.
Smith said the committee can support participating retailers with signs, recipe cards, tote bags, sampling and other promotional support. A display contest also is planned.
Also from September through January, the apple committee will offer a Cooking With Apples online recipe contest.
“We get hundreds of recipes,” Smith said. “We want to make consumers aware of all the different uses for apples. They’re not just for snacking and pie.”