BelleHarvest promotes Michigan apples
The BelleHarvest sales team reported extensive yield, consistent sizes, and expanded opportunity for this year’s Michigan apples. “We are forecasting a tremendous crop here in Michigan,” said Milt Fuehrer, chief executive officer at BelleHarvest. The Belding, MI-based company estimated total volume is up roughly 80 percent over last year.
“Quality and supply of this season is meeting our high expectations and we are looking forward to building out robust programs with customers,” Fuehrer said.
BelleHarvest offers a dynamic array of Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, and Red Delicious apples, along with club varieties like SweeTango, Smitten, Topaz, and EverCrisp®.
Casey Jarrard, vice president of sales at BelleHarvest emphasized the strides Michigan apples has made in closing the gap with out-of-state competitors. “The biggest hurdles Michigan apples have gone through in the past are consistency in sizing and longevity, but BelleHarvest has done a phenomenal job of breaking through those barriers, offering product similar to that of Washington,” Jarrard said.
While yields change from year-to-year, BelleHarvest promotes a dynamic culture that prioritizes customer needs ahead of simply making the sale.
“Leading with our customer-centric model allows us to truly listen and align with customer’s needs,” Jarrard said.
Jarrard contrasted this with a traditional, transactional model, and elevated BelleHarvest’s commitment to long-term collaboration. “We’re all about strategic, tenured partnerships — allowing the customer to point us in the direction that’s best for them and knowing that we will deliver,” he said.
Fuehrer added, “Our focus really has been developing our key partners with value-added opportunities.” This year, specifically, BelleHarvest is leveraging the extended programs it has with this year’s yield and the notable uptick in quality for customers.
BelleHarvest explained away the old notion of Michigan historically positioning itself as a transitional crop, limited to local and regional markets. The difference, BelleHarvest noted, is a positive momentum that comes from sustained, strategic planning — an organizational shift within the team.
Jarrard went on to highlight an emerging trend in customer responses to the Michigan crop. He said, “we expect customers and consumers will be amazed at the high-quality coming out of Michigan.”
“Our breadth of varieties and supply extends all 12 months, allowing for increased seasonal promotions and assortment,” Fuehrer agreed.
BelleHarvest also noted its expansion into the fresh vegetable sector, with its purchase of Michigan Fresh Marketing in July 2021. The addition diversifies BelleHarvest’s offerings and growth potential and brings an established, locally-grown vegetable program to its portfolio. The team has continued marketing under the well-established Michigan Fresh name.
With the acquisition, “our goal is to be the go-to spot for Michigan apples to retailers, the foodservice industry, and wholesale customers with a robust year-round fresh produce program,” Jarrard said.