Overview:

Built in 2012, Heeren’s 180,000 square foot primary facility is state of the art with a focus on efficiency, quality, and the future. Approximately one third of our facility is dedicated to our wholesale produce distribution and brokerage business, while two thirds is dedicated to our storage and packaging operations. Heeren also operates a secondary storage facility to further support Michigan Apple Growers. 

Distribution:

We optimize the integrity, shelf life and quality of the product. Heeren’s 60,000 sq. ft. operation includes eight refrigerated coolers and one frozen cooler. Our shipping and receiving dock is refrigerated for staging inbound and outbound produce. Our ten refridgeration zones are programmed between 34 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit including unique humidity and continuous circulation settings. Further, our airtight cooler and truck doors are specially engineered to prevent unintended temperature changes. 

Our state of the art refrigeration system minimizes refrigeration costs and provides automatic redundancies to alert if temperatures fall outside the setting. Four temperature sensors placed in multiple locations across each cooler detect hot or cold spots within every cooler we maintain. In addition, four refrigeration compressors provide redundancy to prevent equipment failure.

Sorting & Packaging:

Our customers know that they’re receiving the freshest produce possible sorted to their size and color specifications. We provide a better pack out for our growers and repack partners using the most advanced pre-sort and packaging equipment in North America. Heeren can custom sort and pack produce in almost every configuration available in the fresh packaged market to meet customer specifications. 

Heeren’s pre-sort technology allows us to perform high speed, custom grading and sorting to address every customer’s specification. Our pre-sort line uses infrared technology and digital cameras to extract quality from a lot of produce for the following commodities:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Pit fruit
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers   

Once sorted, produce that makes grade is put back into a bin for repacking at a later date. We run a pack to order operation preserving the freshness and quality our customers demand. Whether packing produce across our sort line or repacking produce for repack partners, we have the ability to pack most commodities in nearly every configuration possible for the fresh market. We then custom palletize cases to customer specifications. Lastly, we work with growers and repack partners to maximize their recovery by managing the sale and shipping of culls to secondary processors. This helps growers and repack partners improve their overall recovery from every lot of produce delivered to Heeren. 

Storage:

The key to preserving produce quality post harvest is storing at the right temperature and humidity level. Our storage operations include regular and controlled atmosphere cold storage. Over 80 years of experience, knowledge, technology and facilities allow Heeren to preserve harvest freshness at the highest quality. 

Regular atmosphere cold storage:

This method is utilized for short-term storage to preserve the shelf life of produce prior to being shipped to a customer for the fresh market.

Controlled atmosphere cold storage:

This technology allows us to maintain harvest quality, hardness and flavor profile, long after the commodity is harvested. This method is used for storing certain commodities like apples and blueberries for longer periods of time — up to 12 months, at approximately 34 degrees. Fruit is stored in a sealed room where the oxygen level is reduced to less than 2% and replaced with nitrogen. The process puts the apple or other fruit to “sleep” suspending the natural ripening process so the fruit never reaches a stage of being over-ripe. Fungicides, browning, and ethylene inhibitors are applied directly to apples through fogging applicators within a closed regular atmosphere cold storage room. Fungicides may also be directly applied through a drenching process to further preserve the quality of fruit stored in our facility. 

Heeren combines technology and over 80 years of experience to maximize growers or repack partners recovery. We provide customers with harvest fresh produce packed to their individual specifications. 

If you are interested in talking to Heeren about storage, sort, or packing services please contact Matt Thiede at 616-452-2101 or email us your questions.