Last month I was fortunate to attend Musselman’s First Annual “A Day in the Orchard!” I have been working with Musselman’s for about a year now through reviews and giveaways and I never dreamed it would grow into this kind of partnership. It was me and four other bloggers that got to experience Musselman’s Orrtanna Plant and visit a local orchard, El Vista Orchards. It was such a wonderful experience and really changed my views on apple products and Musselman’s in general.
The trip started with me flying out to Maryland then driving in a limo with the other bloggers to Gettysburg, PA. I learned that just outside of Gettysburg in the town of Biglerville, John S. Musselman Sr. saw the land as the perfect place to plant an apple tree. We checked into the Gettysburg Hotel, which was established in 1797 and was a quaint historic hotel. Then we headed to dinner at Dobbin House Tavern, which is Gettysburg oldest, most historic house built in 1776. We met with Dick Esser (VP of Sales), and the Marketing Team – Helene, Laura, Pam and Bob. Everyone was so nice and really cared about Musselman’s and apples in general! We talked about the Musselman’s products and were even served Musselman’s Apple Juice and Apple Butter with our dinner.
The next day after a nice breakfast at the hotel we headed over to the Orrtanna Plant to tour the Musselman’s facility. We were led by Mike and Chris (Plant Manager and Plant Superintendent) through the facility and it was so interesting! First we donned our hairnets and had to remove jewelry, and then we placed headphones on and started our tour. Now I have never really been in a manufacturing plant so I didn’t know what to expect but I was surprised first at how big it was inside and second how clean it was (and I don’t think it was clean just because we were there, it seemed well maintained in general.) We walked through the rooms where Apple Juice, Applesauce, and all the other Musselman’s products are products and got to see most of the machines in action. It was amazing to learn that none of the apple products go to waste – the remnants after apple sauce are made into juice or cider and so on, the entire apple is used and not wasted which was nice to hear. The machines were so cool how they cored the apples and pulverized them to make them useable. We even got to see how the products are packaged and how actual workers (not machines) have to monitor the lines to check for defective product and stock the machines. The machines we were told are also very modernized which helps with efficiency and costs.
After our plant tour, we headed to a conference room to meet with the John (Manager of Technical Specs) and Mervyn (Director of Technical Services). Both men have been with Musselman’s for 10+ years and you could tell they cared deeply about how important the Musselman’s products are and they wanted to stay on top of things. We talked about how Musselman’s is primarily a Midwest/East Coast product but is slowly working its way to the West Coast. We heard about the new products Totally Fruit Mixed Berry and Healthy Picks Granny Smith (read my review here) and how Totally Fruit applesauce is naturally sweetened with fruit juice so it contains no high fructose corn syrup. We also had some Mussleman’s Apple Cider, which I am now addicted to; luckily my local Wal-Mart carries it for about $3.50!
My favorite part of the visit though would be the visit to El Vista Orchards and meeting Dave Benner the owner. He is a third generation apple farmer and it was so interesting to hear his thoughts. We boarded a school bus and he drove us through his orchard to show us the different types of apples and how they grow. We got to learn that the farmers are dealing with a bug they call the “stink bug” and how it is really harming their crops so he is losing apples to these bugs. Dave actually attends conferences and meets with other farmers to talk about ways to stay ahead of the crops and bugs.
The interesting thing about Musselman’s though is that it is a Grower-Owned Cooperative, so the growers that spend their lives nurturing and harvesting apples also own the company. So Dave at El Vista Orchards really has to care about his apples because if the apples he gives to Musselman’s don’t make high-quality products then Mussleman’s products won’t sell and Dave loses money! At regular companies they acquire products from whomever and that business may not care as much if their products are great because they already sold them and made their profits, but with Mussleman’s the farmers have stakes in the company so they want them to succeed. Mussleman’s starts with farmers who really care and only produce the best apples for the Musselman’s products.
We finished off the trip with lunch and again met with everyone. It was so great to sit down with the marketing team for Musselman’s and the PR team (big thanks to Krista!) to talk about what is important in products for our family, how we could work together and other ideas. It was a short overnight trip but I feel like I got so much out of it. I learned that Musselman’s really cares about their products, saw how clean the facility was, met some of the team, and even saw where some of the apples come from that are used!
Mama’s Money Savers Disclosure: This trip was provided by Mussleman’s but my opinion remains my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy.