Riveridge increases Michigan Asparagus Volume in 2017
SPARTA, Mich. – As part of an expanded partnership with Ridgeview Orchards, Riveridge Produce Marketing will market a larger share of Michigan asparagus in 2017.
“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.”
With this larger volume, Riveridge has added packaging options, revised current packaging and partnered with a Southwest Michigan packer to capture some of the first harvested asparagus of the season.
“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.”
Food Safety and Quality Control has long been an operational focus for Riveridge and that remains the standard as asparagus expands their portfolio of products. As part of their commitment, Riveridge will have four dedicated staff focused on food safety and quality control during the asparagus season. These staff members will be on hand to provide support in the fields, at receiving stations and packing facilities. Their goal will be to drive safe handling practices and provide inspections as needed to help ensure a consistent and quality pack.
Real-time inventory will be in place thanks to shared software between Ridgeview and Riveridge. As asparagus is packed, the system will be updated and refreshed automatically every five minutes to Riveridge. Sales staff can then see where there may be opportunities to move extra inventory and be ready when buyers have additional needs.
Capitalizing off trends such as providing more convenient options to prepare fresh foods, Riveridge will have a 12 oz. microwavable option. To prepare, the consumer would simply snip the corner of the packaging and cook in the microwave two to three and a half minutes. This will steam the asparagus which is the preferred method of preparation (58 percent*) as found by a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board (MAAB).
Additionally, as more consumers like to know more where their food comes from, Riveridge has emphasized Michigan grown on packages with a larger outline of the state and created a Michigan-grown tag for the one-pound bundles. MAAB research shows 76 percent* of consumers are more likely to purchase US-grown asparagus over imports and 55 percent* of them are willing to pay more for that option.
Shafer Lake, a Riveridge partner for apple packing, has added an asparagus packing line. Based in Southwest Michigan, Shafer Lake will receive and package asparagus directly from that region which harvests sooner than the bulk of Michigan asparagus grown in the Hart region.
At this time, and contingent on the weather, packing of Michigan asparagus is anticipated between May 5-7, 2017.
*Online consumer research by Full Tilt Marketing of 500 primary household shoppers who purchased asparagus in the past 12 months from Minneapolis, Minn., Cincinnati, Ohio, Tampa/Orlando, Fla., Richmond, Virg. and New Jersey.