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Michigan Apple Committee raising awareness through social media

By
Keith Loria

The Michigan Apple Committee works in the areas of consumer education, research, market development and communications with the primary goal to help Michigan Apple growers be successful in their businesses.

“Our main focus area is working to increase Michigan Apple consumption amongst consumers,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “Our 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.”

The Michigan Apple Committee feels fortunate to have received Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to implement social media and other campaigns to raise brand awareness and increase consumption of Michigan Apples.

“Social media is our primary tactic for reaching and engaging with our target audience,” Smith said. “Over the past several years, we have developed social media messaging that resonates with our audience, on targeted platforms to raise brand awareness and educate consumers.”

Michigan is the second largest producer of apples in the nation, behind Washington. The 2023 crop was projected to be 32 million bushels, and the 2022 crop was just over 32 million bushels.

“Apples are an important part of Michigan’s economy, as the largest and most valuable fruit crop in the state,” Smith said.

Michigan Apples are hand-harvested which requires farm worker hand labor. Production is labor-intensive, with 60 percent of production costs going to labor; that can be a major challenge Smith said.

She explained that the 2024 Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for Michigan is $18.50 — an increase of about 7 percent.

“More broadly, increased administrative burdens and increased production costs continue to be a challenge for growers,” Smith said. “Our national organization, the U.C. Apple Association, has been helpful in bringing the concerns of the growers to Congress, the Department of Labor and the Department of Agriculture.”

With costs skyrocketing, continued increases threaten to put many farms out of business. It is without a doubt the biggest concern of apple growers in Michigan and across the country.

“Continuing to work toward our mission will help growers be successful,” Smith said. “We represent all apple growers in the state of Michigan, aiming to increase consumption of apples, strengthen Michigan’s presence in the retail marketplace, and fund important research on a wide variety of production and marketing challenges face by the industry.”

At the beginning of January, there were plenty of Michigan Apples available for consumers and Smith encourages consumers to try a new variety or an old favorite.

“Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji are always popular with consumers,” she said. “In addition, managed varieties have grown in popularity year over year. Keeping these varieties stocked for longer periods of time and not just for a sale or a ‘limited time’ will keep the consumer coming back to purchase their new favorite apple variety. We expect managed varieties to continue to thrive.”

In winter, Smith feels retailers should be focusing on healthy lifestyles.

“Apples are a symbol of health and there is good reason for that,” she said. “Retail dietitians can request our turnkey dietitian kit by emailing [email protected]. MAC has a wealth of health and nutrition information that retailers can share with their shoppers.”

Overall, consumers are attracted to Michigan apples because of the flavor, and no one can produce an apple quite like growers in the state, Smith said.

“Our proximity to the Great Lakes allows for plenty of moisture; the topography of the apple growing regions equal hilly landscapes and nutrient rich soil; and good weather conditions in each season help to enhance both color and flavor of the fruit,” Smith said. “Bite into a Michigan Apple and you’ll taste the difference.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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