Before there was pumpkin spice everything, there was just pumpkin. As fall is in full swing and jack-o-lantern season approaches, Michigan-based Meijer reports that it expects to sell more than 500,000 locally grown pumpkins for decorating and carving this year, as people celebrate the autumn holidays in a more normal way compared with the anomaly of 2020.
Michigan is a major pumpkin-producing state, along with neighboring Illinois and Ohio. Meijer partners with family-owned farms across its six-state footprint to source fresh pumpkins, 95% of which are received by stores within a two days of harvest. In addition to offering an assortment of ornamental pumpkins and those for cooking and baking, the grocery chain also works with its farmer partners to provide shoppers with other fall harvest items like gourds and ornamental corn that are merchandised in store and in outdoor displays.
“Everything we do for fall harvest starts with understanding what will make the season great for families, so partnering with local growers allows us to add a pumpkin-patch feeling to the shopping experience,” said Produce Buyer Sedric Wytch.
One local grower that works with Meijer projects that the market for pumpkins should be ripe this year. “The fall harvest is especially symbolic this year after being away from grandparents and relatives,” noted Tony Grice, of Heritage Farming Enterprises, in Fremont, Mich. “Whether you’re carving with teenagers or decorating with toddlers, those are the type of memories that bring families together.”
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer operates 257 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 18 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.