Riveridge Produce Marketing Gains More Michigan Asparagus Acreage for 2017
- by Jessica Donnel
SPARTA, MI – There’s a boost in Michigan asparagus production in store for Riveridge Produce Marketing this year. The company has announced an increase in its volume for 2017 due to an expanded partnership with Ridgeview Orchards. Riveridge is also looking forward to a productive year with expanded packaging options, and more packing lines being added to its production.
“We didn’t hesitate when Ridgeview asked us to come aboard with asparagus marketing. It gives us an opportunity to expand our Michigan produce offering and create new options for our customers,” said Don Armock, President, Riveridge Produce Marketing. “Ridgeview Orchards has the best in mind for the end customers and are willing to try new things–we’re looking forward to working with them for years to come on asparagus."
According to a press release, the company plans to begin packing its Michigan-grown asparagus between May 5-7, weather permitting.
“We’ve worked with Riveridge for a number of years on the apple side, and they’ve always been on the forefront of marketing, food safety, and quality,” said Al Dietrich, Co-Owner Ridgeview Orchards. “They have more than 25 years of produce relationships on the apple side and we knew it would be a natural bridge to add our asparagus marketing to their portfolio.”
The companies will be able to keep up real-time inventory thanks to software that is shared between Ridgeview and Riveridge. The system will update and refresh automatically every five minutes as the asparagus is packed. This allows sales staff from Riveridge to see where opportunities may be for extra inventory, and to be ready when buyers have additional needs.
Riveridge has also added another asparagus packing line with one of its apple packers, Shafer Lake. This Southwest Michigan-based packer will receive and package asparagus directly from its surrounding region, allowing for Riveridge to access some of the first asparagus of the season. Asparagus in Southwest Michigan harvests sooner than the bulk grown in the Hart region.
With its latest offering, company is also tapping in on consumers' need to know where their food originates by emphasizing that its products are Michigan-grown on the packaging. Packages will now feature a larger outline of the state, with one lb bundles having a Michigan-grown tag. The company noted that Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board (MAAB) research showed that 76 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase U.S.-grown asparagus over imports, with 55 percent more willing to pay for that option.
Riveridge is also looking to capitalize off consumers' demand for convenience and fresh foods with a 12 oz microwaveable option, according to a press release. This ready-to-eat selection is ready to consumer after a corner of the packaging is snipped and cooked in the microwave for two to three and a half minutes, perfectly steaming the asparagus. A recent survey by MAAB found that 58 percent of consumers prefer to steam their asparagus.
Food Safety and Quality Control will continue to remain the standard for Riveridge as its portfolio expands. Riveridge is committing to this operational focus by appointing four staff members to remain focused on food safety and quality control during the asparagus season. These members will be on hand to provide support in the field, at receiving stations, and at packing facilities. These team members will aim to drive safe handling practices, and provide inspections as needed in order to ensure a consistent and quality pack.
What's next for Riveridge as we move into the asparagus season? Stick with AndNowUKnow to find out.