Trio of companies form All Fresh GPS

Sales and shipping company All Fresh GPS LLC was formed through the combination of Michigan Fresh Marketing LLC and Ridgeking Apple Packing & Storage, both based in Belding, and Deerfield-based Applewood Orchards Inc.

After the closing of the merger, All Fresh GPS owns and operates more than 1,500 acres of apples and represent more than 75 fami-ly-owned-and-operated grower operations, or more than 20% of fresh apples grown in Michigan, according to an Aug. 18 statement.

All Fresh will market and distribute apples throughout the U.S. and in foreign markets, capitalizing on the three companies’ “long history and strong relationships with Michigan growers, packers and shippers,” the statement said.

Tom Curtis, formerly president of Michigan Fresh Marketing, and Scott Swindeman, vice president and sales manager of Applewood Orchards, were named co-managing directors of All Fresh.

All Fresh “will give us the fruit, facilities, equipment and distribution capabilities to serve the needs of larger retailers that were beyond the individual reach of Applewood and Michigan Fresh,” Curtis said in the statement.

“As a larger organization, All Fresh GPS will also be better able to serve growers through better utilization of their fruit, use of enhanced technology and expanded distribution networks,” Curtis said.

Jack Brown Produce finishes up expansion

A $2.5 million expansion of Jack Brown Produce’s Sparta, Mich. packing and storage complex, begun in 2009, is expected to be com-pleted by Oct. 1, said John Schaefer, president.

The project is expected to increase Jack Brown’s processing capacity by one-third, from 5,000 bushels a day currently. Jack Brown also added temperature-controlled storage rooms.

With a large apple crop coming this year, “we need to be able to handle that additional capacity,” Schaefer said. “This will make us a little more efficient.”

A new packing line features both external and internal defect sorting and gentler handling of the varieties that are more prone to bruising, Schaefer said.

Riveridge Produce adds apple acreage

In spring 2011, Sparta, Mich.-based Riveridge Produce Marketing bought a 400-acre farm near Grant, said Justin Finkler, who oversees food safety and quality assurance.

The farm is an “old Red” orchard, part of which Riveridge is converting to high-density plantings of more popular fresh market apple va-rieties, Finkler said.

Riveridge now operates 800 acres of apple orchards.

The company also recently opened a packing shed with new grading and sorting equipment and temperature-controlled certifying rooms for product destined for Brazil and Mexico.