Continuous improvement and growth in both food safety and productivity in the years to come
The Michigan Apple Packers Cooperative brings together West Michigan growers who share a core mission: To create the best possible eating experience for consumers. To accomplish this, they’ve created a set of standards and a system to coordinate all their growing and packing activities. Those shared values have been a priority at Michigan Apple Packers for the last 17 years, creating a shared vision among its 18 grower-partners who are also stockholders in the company.
Though it hasn’t been around as long as some of the nearby, family-owned facilities, Michigan Apple Packers has displayed consistent numbers since its opening. “With record crops coming every year, we need to update and increase capacity,” says Jim Vanderwilp, MAPC plant manager. “Looking to the immediate future, we’re having all new equipment installed to enhance our capability to pack more efficiently. We’re also adopting the internal sorting technology demanded by the modern marketplace.” Michigan Apple Packers also strives to maintain a high safety standard and keeps close watch on food safety laws that are constantly updated. MAPC grower-partners maintain updated safety certifications at the packing house and in their own operations, and each one maintains detailed orchard maps. This transparency makes it easy for customers to see that they are on the right track. New sanitation procedures and chlorinators on the receiving end ensure superior apple packs. A sophisticated tracking system allows Michigan Apple Packers to identify the source of any problems down to the specific block of trees and date of harvest.
As technology improves, Michigan Apple Packers is also able to find new, advanced techniques to promote sustainability. The coop’s Enersave system minimizes electricity use within the facility, and a 90 percent efficiency boiler reduces the company’s carbon footprint. Michigan Apple Packers also feeds their culls to cattle and recycles up to 30 yards of cardboard each week.
“We at Michigan Apple Packers look forward to continuous improvement and growth in both food safety and productivity in the years to come,” Vanderwilp says. “With all the new trees being planted each year by our grower base, the volume of apples will be greater and quality will be better.” “We still look for more growers to join our team and be part of a growing family.” United by common values to best serve the customer, there’s no doubt that Michigan Apple Packers will remain on the leading edge for Michigan apples for years to come.