Whether a grower is looking for a primary storage partner or is dropping off fruit for packing previously stored at their own facility, growers never have to worry about the condition of their fruit at Heeren. We have the knowledge, expertise, equipment, and facilities to preserve the quality of a fresh apple from the time its picked until the fruit is sold — even months after harvest. Growers have the ability to store over 50,000 tree-run bins in one of two Heeren facilities. Half of these bins can be stored in controlled atmosphere. Furthermore, Heeren has licensed applicators and partnerships with chemical companies to apply MCP, DPA, and fungicides to help preserve the quality of apples being stored for extended periods of time.
Our packing operation blends years of knowledge and experience, and Heeren’s state of the art, highly automated, sorting and packing equipment to meet or exceed customer expectations, while maximizing a grower’s recovery. Heeren has the ability to sort and pack fruit to meet USDA standards and pack fruit in any packaging and pallet configuration. If needed, we can exceed these standards for customers with unique grading and packing specifications in any packaged format. We gently handle the fruit and maintain core temperatures all the way through the sorting and packing process while reducing the time between sorting and shipping fruit. In addition, Heeren maximizes returns by matching a grower’s fruit to a customer’s order.
Beginning with our pre-sort operation; we wash, grade and size apples to customer specifications, using infrared technology and digital cameras on the only flume based sort line found in the Midwest. Pre-sized fruit is placed into a plastic bin, without brusing, for short-term storage using a wet-filler. Fruit is then stored in regular atmosphere cold storage to preserve freshness until it’s pulled for packing with the goal of shipping within 14 days of sorting and grading.
Our process and technology allows us to pack the freshest fruit available in the market. Heeren is a “pack to order” operation. We pack pre-sized fruit 24 to 72 hours prior to shipping to a customer. Fruit is washed, waxed, packed and auto palletized to customer specifications then staged in regular atmosphere cold storage until shipped.
Our comprehensive quality control program extends from bloom until a harvest is completely sold. We’re focused on maximizing grower recoveries by matching the quality of fruit to customer orders and specifications. We help growers decide whether to send fruit to the processor or the fresh market to maximize grower recovery. In addition, our detailed cull reporting helps growers improve yield in future harvests by identifying defects which growers can control.
We believe the key to successful partnerships start with transparency and consistent communications. This ensures growers are always connected to the fresh market conditions. Throughout the annual process, our skilled teams communicate with growers in person and through monthly reporting packages. Our growers always know the status of their fruit maintained by Heeren and should never be surprised by the performance of their crop. We keep our partners informed about quality concerns, preliminary yield rates based on pre-sort reporting, and through monthly quality reports. Our monthly reporting package provides statistics regarding individual grower performance, and benchmarking against the total population of growers working with Heeren.
In addition to the monthly quality control package and annual summary statements, we also provide growers with a monthly reporting package providing insight into: