Two Michigan apple markets have combined sales staffs and represent about 150 growers, which will result in around 3 million bushels of Michigan apple shipments due to the union.
Joining forces are Belleharvest Sales Inc. and Michigan Fresh Marketing.
The merger creates a sales alliance, resulting in the second-largest apple shipping operation in Michigan, according to a news release. In 2018, 10 million to 11 million of the state’s 24 million bushels were sold on the fresh market.
The apples will be packed at 7 facilities owned by Belleharvest of Belding, MI., and Michigan Fresh Marketing of Grand Rapids.
“This move is being made to take full advantage of both companies’ strengths and abilities,” Milt Fuehrer, Belleharvest CEO, said. “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. “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 of 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.