In 2018, 10 million-11 million of the state’s 24 million bushels were sold on the fresh market.
The apples will be packed at seven facilities owned by Belleharvest, Belding, Mich., and Michigan Fresh Marketing, Grand Rapids.
Although the companies have merged, they retain their business names, functioning as a single sales desk, according to Angela Sommers of Belleharvest. Both Belleharvest and Michigan Fresh brands are available to all customers. The new company markets traditional varieties and newer club varieties, including Smitten, Evercrisp, Topaz and SweeTango.
“This move is being made to take full advantage of both companies’ strengths and abilities,” Milt Fuehrer, Belleharvest CEO, said in the release. “By merging the offices into one company there will be a robust sales department along with a wider distribution footprint.”
Michigan Fresh CEO Joe D’Ottavio said the partnership allows for innovation.
“The growth potential these two organizations bring to the market is exponential,” D’Ottavio said in the release. “We have an experienced sales team, diverse varieties, and the ability to pack orders quickly and efficiently.”
The Belleharvest/Michigan Fresh partnership follows other changes in the Michigan apple industry. In January, Applewood Fresh Growers LLC, Sparta, formed to market apples from more than 11,000 acres in Michigan and other states.
Also in January, Riveridge Produce Marketing, a Sparta apple grower-shipper-marketer, acquired Sparta apple company Jack Brown Produce’s sales operation.