North Bay Produce raves about this year’s Michigan apple crop
North Bay Produce, a Traverse City, MI-based cooperative of growers, is offering a versatile varietal mix and large sizes in its 2023 portfolio of Michigan apples. Ken Korson, sales and apple category manager at North Bay, raved about this year’s crop. “It is possibly the largest crop Michigan has ever had,” he said.
Korson noted an ideal pre-harvest climate positioned Michigan apples for this year’s historic run. “The spring and summer weather came with timely rains, which helped produce larger fruit sizes,” he said.
That size and consistency are go-to talking points for Michigan apple marketers. “One of the reasons this year’s crop is so significant is the fruit size, coupled with the fact that many of our varieties have had the largest number of apples on each tree we have ever seen,” Korson said.
The company leverages a diverse offering of apples, “our varietal mix makes North Bay unique,” said Korson. “We have an excellent varietal mix and will have numerous apples to offer into the spring.”
North Bay’s spring portfolio features Honeycrisp, Evercrisp, Pink Lady®, Galas, Ambrosia, Galas, Reds, Macs, Jonathon, Jonagolds, Empires, Fuji, Golds, and Cameo. “We also have great numbers of Honeycrisp that should take us into the spring,” said Korson.
North Bay sees a big opportunity this year, specifically with Washington’s smaller crop. “With Washington’s fruit being smaller than normal, demand has grown for our larger fruit,” Korson said. The company has also noted a trend towards larger trays. “Again with sizes being up, we are promoting more large tray apples than we have done in years past –– demand is very good,” he added.
As industry trends go, Korson highlighted consumers moving more and more towards private label packaging, along with a continued preference to pouches over poly bags or net bags.
“North Bay’s cooperative of Michigan apple growers has built a company with excellent quality and service working with retailers to supply them with the products and packaging they need to drive sales,” Korson said.
The last few years have been marked with challenges for the fresh produce industry, but North Bay is feeling positive about 2023. “There are always challenges every season, but you must find solutions to fix them and turn them into opportunities,” Korson concluded.