North Bay Produce expects above average apple season in Michigan
North Bay Produce is a cooperative of more than 32 grower-owners from North, Central and South America, producing fresh fruits and vegetables year-round.
An international company headquartered in Traverse City, MI, North Bay Produce started as an apple company and apples were and remain a vital part of the tremendous fresh produce grown in Michigan.
Ken Korson, North Bay Produce’s apple category manager, is charged with collaborating with growers to determine the best time to pack apples.
Additionally, he oversees the organization of their CA rooms for the season. He has been managing the apple category for the last 13 years and through that time all of the company’s six packingsheds have upgraded their packing lines and facilities, which has increased the quality of the apple pack and efficiency of each shed.
“In the office, I work closely with sales to ensure that we have a clear understanding of our inventory and pricing, enabling us to provide the best possible service to our customers,” he said. “My goal is to manage the fruit from the tree all the way to the customer’s fridge.”
Every year, Korson handles more than a million cases on orders that come across his desk.
“For me, success would mean the growers earning a profit and being able to sell their crops on schedule, while our company remains profitable,” he said.
Last season, North Bay Produce’s Michigan apple sales and profits reached a record high due to a bountiful crop.
“Other growing regions experienced a decrease in production, which enabled us to sell more of our crop,” Korson said. “It looks like this year’s crop volume and fruit size won’t break last year’s record, but it’s still expected to be above average for Michigan. There may not be as much tray pack fruit due to the dry spring, but recent moisture should help determine the final fruit size over the next few months. The crop is running about a week ahead of schedule, and we can expect fruit to continue into next summer.”
At the moment, Honeycrisp and Galas are the top apple choices. However, as the season progresses and fresh Michigan Honeycrisp apples become scarce, Evercrisp is becoming increasingly popular.
As part of his responsibilities, Korson maintains a close relationship with fellow shippers in Michigan, discussing the hurdles the company encounters and sharing insights on the crop.
“In order to boost sales of Michigan apples, it is important to explore opportunities for exporting while also keeping domestic prices competitive,” he said. “Stores can prioritize moving apples to high-traffic areas and maintaining consistent excellent quality. This approach can yield significant results. This will help to expand the market for Michigan apples.”