Fuel costs add strain but give a proximity edge to Michigan growers - The Packer

Fuel costs add strain but give a proximity edge to Michigan growers

06/09/2011 10:31:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Miedema likened the situation to an the undesirable cycle that some colleges have seen when they raise tuition to cover their costs, but in doing so cause a drop in their enrollment that creates the need for another tuition hike.

Joe Pirrone, president of Mussey, Mich.-based Mike Pirrone Produce Inc., said prices at retail need to stay at a level that will keep the product moving.

“We need to get prices to where at retail people will pick up the product, and hopefully it will be there,” Pirrone said.

Todd Miedema, marketing director and principal in Hudsonville, Mich.-based Miedema Produce Inc., said although the high fuel costs will translate to higher food costs at retail, and that is worrisome, that it could also bode well for growers in his part of the country.

“We’re going to be able to compete more favorably against California,” Todd Miedema said.

Bruce Heeren, vice president of Belding-based Michigan Fresh Marketing, said he didn’t expect to encounter difficulties beyond the normal occurrences of a season.

“But being in Michigan we are close to many major markets in the country and thus hours from a receiver as opposed to two to three days,” Heeren said. “The impact on transportation isn’t as great for us in those cases and can be an advantage at times.”

Miedema said high input costs are putting some growers out of business or causing them to switch over to less labor-intensive products like field crops.

“If it continues, you’ll see fewer growers in vegetables and an upward trend in prices,” Todd Miedema said.

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