Karst chat with Armock: To look inside the apple - The Packer

Karst chat with Armock: To look inside the apple

04/07/2011 04:04:26 PM
Tom Karst

 This season is just a reflection of Mother Nature giving us a very short crop. The industry in general and the industry in Michigan will have bigger crops to market as times go along. I say these are exciting times. I think part of the reason I'm excited is that we have gotten more attuned with the customer needs in an industry that has a tendency to be slow moving because you make decisions on planting an orchard or building a facility, those are 20-year horizon type decisions. We move a bit slower than say the vegetable industry does. But we've made those wholesale changes, transition from the mix of fresh and processed to a mix of a much bigger percentage going to the fresh side, at least the plantings are oriented that way.

So now what is happening is that new planting are improved strains of proven varieties or there are more recent introductions of existing regional varieties. These regional varieties are experiencing a resurgence of this desire on the part of consumers to support local food production. So these are all positive things that are happening.

10:07 a.m. Karst: You are fairly 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.

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