Michigan grower-shippers face slow economy, changes

06/09/2011 10:23:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Pirrone said second to the rising fuel and fertilizer costs on the company’s list of challenges is the general state of the economy.

“People don’t have the money in their pockets to spend,” Pirrone said. “We need to make sure they spend it on food, and the cheapest place you can eat is at home.”

For Mike Pirrone Produce, 75% of its products end up on shelves outside of Michigan. Pirrone said the restaurant industry is still suffering because of the economic downturn, but that the retail market is doing just fine.

Pirrone said he has also noticed a fundamental shift in the way people shop. Pirrone said consumers in the past would go to the store with a specific purchase already in-mind. More recently, consumers have begun shopping once they arrive at the store, making decisions based on pricing, specials and product quality.

Todd Miedema, marketing director and principal in Miedema Produce Inc., Hudsonville, said consumers are looking for ways to use fresh fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.

“People are now in the kitchen with their laptops checking recipes,” Todd Miedema said. “There’s so much information available now, and as a company it’s good to take advantage of that.


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