Michigan Apple Committee puts focus on social media
Consumer education and outreach aimed at increasing consumption of Michigan apples is an important focus of the Michigan Apple Committee.
The MAC engages in marketing, research education and communications for the benefit of Michigan’s apple growers. Its mission is to enhance the reputation of Michigan apples, improve their share of sales in target markets and aid the profitability and sustainability of Michigan’s apple industry.
“With Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, we have been able to concentrate on social media platforms as a way to engage with our target consumer audience, women between the ages of 25 and 54,” said Diane Smith, executive director of MAC. “The grant funding allows us to develop, implement and evaluate campaigns that take place each autumn in order to most effectively and efficiently utilize grant and grower dollars.”
For 2022, MAC has analyzed audience data to incorporate new social media platforms into its campaigns, as well as dial back from platforms with decreasing reach, while crafting posts and messages that resonate most effectively with the audience.
There are many ways MAC works to help growers be successful.
“MAC funds research at institutions of excellence such as Michigan State University, to develop solutions to production challenges,” Smith said. “MAC also implements consumer education and communications programs aimed at increasing consumption of Michigan apples, and marketing programs to support retail efforts. In addition, MAC provides a voice for growers at the federal and state level and brings grower perspectives to conversations impacting the apple industry.”
MAC also works with retailers’ marketing departments to create extensive programs that include digital coupons, loyalty card incentives and online shopping web tactics. This has shown success in increasing sales as digital marketing opportunities are more readily available.
Michigan is predicted to harvest 29.5 million bushels (1.2 billion pounds) of apples in 2022.
“Not only is it a large crop but it is also a good quality crop,” Smith said. “We are hearing from growers that the crop is clean and sizing nicely.”
Still, there are challenges.
“Climate change is a huge issue — changing weather patterns are causing challenges with production, including frost and freeze events in spring as well as obstacles related to pollination,” Smith said. “Other issues, including labor, trade and crop insurance continue to impede growers and apple movement, but our industry as well as our national organization, continue to work with lawmakers in efforts to ease these challenges from a federal legislative perspective.”
Apples are the largest and most valuable fruit crop in the state. Michigan has 14.9 million apple trees on 34,500 acres of land in Michigan. Retailers can capitalize on the state’s strong apple crop by following MAC’s advice.
“Educating consumers on buying local is key,” Smith said. “Telling the story of a generational family that runs a local orchard or cidery, explaining the impact of local crops to the overall state’s economy, and how buying locally can reduce carbon emissions by less travel time can help the consumer understand that buying locally is not just a movement, it is necessary to sustain our growers and farmers. Consumers like to get to know the people who produce their food.”