Growers report increased demand for local Ontario apples

John Giffen says that increased outreach and growing interest in local produce are the reasons for a sizeable sales bump at his family’s Glen Huron, Ontario, orchard.

“Sales have been increasing,” he says. “Retailers are ordering more on a weekly basis.”
The Giffens’ family-run farm is “more of a boutique” operation, according to Giffen, with a delivery radius of 160 km. This year, the Giffens took advantage of that limited reach to rebrand and reposition their apples for local consumers. 

“More and more consumers want to know where their food is coming from and how it is being produced and this is definitely increasing demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables,” Giffen says, explaining the decision.

Three key changes
The Giffens have made three key changes to tap into this increased consumer interest. 

First, they rebranded. Their company, which is officially registered as Glen Huron Apples & Cold Storage, created a “Giffen Orchard” label for their apples. Second, they invested in increased client care. Giffen describes this approach as, “What can we do to help our customers sell more local apples?” Third, Giffen himself started interacting one-on-one with consumers, spreading the word about local-grown produce.

“I’ve been out doing demonstrations at stores and speaking directly with customers.” Giffen adds that he’s received valuable feedback thanks to these interactions. Meanwhile, curious consumers are building a relationship with the Giffen Orchard brand and becoming more familiar with where their apples come from.

50% to 75% increase in sales
The changes have made a noticeable impact – Giffen estimates that apple sales have grown between 50% to 75% over this time last year. He notes that some of his best performers are traditional Ontario varieties such as McIntosh, Cortland, Empire and Spy.

These numbers are good news for more than just the Giffens.

“In terms of packing, we’re hiring more people to help pack the product,” explains Giffen, who’s had to increase working hours at the orchard’s packing facility. Reflecting on the new, local jobs the sales increase has created, Giffen points to the deeper impact of supporting local growers. “It’s good for the community, too.”

For more information:
John Giffen
Glen Huron Apples & Cold Storage Ltd.
Tel: (+1) 705-466-3080 Work
Tel: (+1) 705-888-6791 Mobile

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