The Packer’s National Editor Tom Karst chatted on April 6 with Don Armock, president of Sparta, Mich.-based Riveridge Produce Marketing Inc. Read the entire chat on the Fresh Talk blog.
10 a.m. Tom Karst: What are you working on this week?
10:01 a.m. Don Armock: Well, for the first time (at this time of year) since I’ve been in this end of the business, we’re done shipping and selling for the season, with some slight exceptions. So I’m working on cleanup things, and we have new farms so I’m working on that sort of thing too.
10:04 a.m. Karst: This was an unusual year, with the shorter crop here in Michigan but a larger crop in Washington. How do you feel like the season went overall for Michigan apple marketers?
10:04 a.m. Armock: Given that we had a very short crop, (the season) all worked really well. We had unprecedented demand early on for the size of crop. We literally finished up the old crop and started packing the new crop at the same time and at the same kind of pace or even a stronger pace, so it went great. We got reasonable money for the product that we were able to pack. We had reduced packouts, but it could have been a lot worse.
10:07 a.m. Karst: You are close to a lot of population centers. Do you see more of your product stay in nearby markets now compared with a few years ago because of the demand for local fruit?
10:07 a.m. Armock: I think what has happened is that you get more promotional opportunities. First of all, the definition of local is different for everyone. We tend to think in terms of regional because in this area of the country, we serve several states that we are probably the local deal for. Certainly in the state of Michigan, we get a lot of support, and major retailers have been supportive for a number of years.
That part of it is growing, but outside of the immediate area, we get a lot more promotional opportunities and that has basically long-term effects on our business because we tend to pick up a little more market share and people see regional varieties that they may not have had exposure to before and suddenly they change their purchase habits a bit and they occasionally try something that they have never had the opportunity to try before until it was put in front of them in terms of ad promotions or part of a harvest time push on the part of the retailer.