Burnette Foods, Inc. evolved from the purchase of a cherry farm in Northern Michigan in the mid 1950’s to become a significant provider of shelf stable fruit and vegetable products through internal innovation and strategic acquisitions. Founders William A. Sherman and Fred M. Sherman began Sherman Canning Company in East Jordan, Michigan during the late 1950’s. The management team is now led by the third generation of the Sherman family with family members responsible for each of the company’s three directly-owned plants and two affiliated plants.
After incorporating in 1969, William, Robert and Theodore Sherman assumed management of the East Jordan plant in May of 1971. With their leadership and hands on management, the company began to add product lines to better serve their customers. Today the original plant in East Jordan continues to process fresh cherries and a variety of vegetable products including potatoes, carrots and mixed vegetables. Investment into the original plant continues in an effort to produce a larger assortment of products packaged in a variety of containers.
During 1977, the company acquired Elk Rapids Packing Company from 17 grower/ stockholders in a joint venture with another local canning company. In 1980, Sherman Canning Company became the sole owner of Elk Rapids Packing Company allowing the company to more quickly upgrade the facility, purchase new equipment and expand its product offerings. Today, the Elk Rapids facility produces a large variety of canned fruit fillings, headlined by cherry fruit filling, maraschino cherries and other canned fruits packed from fresh fruit.
In 1984, Sherman Canning found an opportunity in Southern Michigan with easy access to major shipping routes. This company was a grower owned operation in need of substantial investments in plant and equipment. Shortly after the purchase of the Hartford facility the company changed its name to Burnette Foods, Inc. Over the years, Burnette Foods has continued to invest in the plant and in new equipment to expand its product offerings. Today, the Hartford, Michigan facility specializes in apple products, processing over 100 million pounds of apples annually. In addition to applesauce and apple juice, the Hartford facility offers other varieties of juice, fruit puree and mixed fruit products in a variety of containers. These containers include glass, PET, and metal cans in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Opportunity arose again in 2010 and Burnette Foods, Inc. acquired a fresh green bean, fresh pumpkin and dry pack bean operation in New Era, Michigan.The New Era Plant is located just North of Muskegon, Michigan and is affiliated with Burnette Foods, Inc. with its shareholders being the third generation of the Sherman family. The New Era location, formerly known as New Era Foods, is now Burnette Foods Oceana, LLC. Again, substantial investment was needed to bring this plant up to the standards required by Burnette Foods, Inc.
Most recently, Burnette Foods Oceana, LLC purchased Peninsula Fruit Exchange, Inc., a long time producer of brine cherries, the primary ingredient for Burnette Foods’ maraschino cherries. This acquisition insures a steady supply of an important ingredient and provides a strategic location to further the supply of cherries and other fruits.
Burnette Foods, Inc. has a long history of product innovation and strategic acquisition and investment. With the third generation, Robert Sherman Jr., William Sherman Jr., Ted Sherman Jr., Jennifer Boyer, Matthew Sherman, and Joel Smith now in key management roles and all sharing the vision of their fathers and grandfather, the company’s future is assured.