Modern Tech Helps Extend Season
Many Midwestern growers, shippers and wholesalers can offer produce over a longer season, shipped more reliably, and at more affordable prices because of technological advances in agriculture.
“The local produce is getting more year-round, as Michigan apples are extending the season, and technology has made for more indoor agricultural space for non-traditional times for products like tomatoes, herbs and leaf lettuces,” says Dan Corsaro, vice president of sales and marketing at Indianapolis Fruit Company.
At Ben B. Schwartz, brothers Jake and Drew Billmeyer took over in 2018, as the fourth generation of the family-owned wholesaler, which started back in 1906. The brothers continue the tradition of improving the company by adopting new technologies.
“We’ve got a great transportation operation within our company,” says Nate Stone, special projects manager at Ben B. Schwartz. “We go as far as we need to get our customers’ orders delivered. Customers are still looking for quality and service, and that’s what we’ve been giving them since 1906. We think we’re getting better at it because of the technology that lets us know where the trucks are and improves our refrigeration. Things just keep getting better.”
Just as technology is improving transportation and storage, it is also making possible greater precision in growing.
“Midwest growers are investing in precision planting equipment to get better spacing, quality and efficiency and electrostatic sprayers to minimize drift, and reduce the amount of chemicals needed to protect the crop,” says Loren Buurma, chief financial officer.
“Also GPS tracking to aid in planting and harvesting, electronic time-keeping systems to more accurately record production of each worker and help with traceability for each crop, food safety systems that monitor water quality, cooler temperatures, and daily/weekly cleaning logs, and labeling systems that apply UPC/PLU/GTIN identification on a per-bunch, per-box, per-pallet level for better traceability.”