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Snyder’s-Lance, Ricker Hill Orchards, Country Farms Market Earn MGFPA Honors

Mark Kelley of Country Farms Market, MGFPA Grocer of the Year.
Mark Kelley of Country Farms Market, MGFPA Grocer of the Year.

Last updated on June 13th, 2024 at 04:50 pm

The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association (MGFPA) last week announced its top awards for 2017. The group honored Snyder’s-Lance of Saco as Associate of the Year; Ricker Hill Orchards of Turner as Producer of the Year; and Country Farms Market of Easton as 2017 Grocer of the Year.

Snyder’s-Lance, formally Michaud Distributors, was founded as a small family-owned business in 1980. Dave Dickey, ‎regional sales manager, noted Snyder’s-Lance takes pride in being the “better-than and better-for-you brand. The company is dedicated to offering “better snack selections; the cleanest on the market,” Dickey said.

MGFPA awards
Jon Dube, Dave Dickey, John O’Malley and Jeff Roy, Snyder’s-Lance.

With an office and warehouse staff of 35 people, its market consists of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and select regions of New York. The operation includes more than 150 routes (54 Maine routes that are operated by independent Maine business truck owners) delivering to independent corner stores and major grocery chains.

Snyder’s-Lance’s distribution extends from Lewiston to Calais and northern parts of the state, including Presque Isle, Houlton and Madawaska. On any given day, 15-20 tractor trailer trucks come in and out of the Saco warehouse.

Snyder’s-Lance has an exclusive distribution relationship with Maine chip brand Humpty Dumpty while distributing other well-known brands such as Cape Cod, Kettle Brand, Pop Secret, Snyder’s pretzels and Lance crackers. The Saco facility handles 800 product SKUs and 40 manufacturers while also distributing products for other Maine businesses such as local sauces.

Ricker Hill Orchards primarily has been known for its apples, with orchards that spread across seven Maine towns, from Turner to Bridgton. Ninety percent of its apple production is sold in Maine and eastern New Hampshire.

Ricker Hill Orchards has expanded its harvest to include cranberries, pumpkins, blueberries and grapes. The operation boasts more than 1,000 acres of uncultivated wildlife habitat and hundreds of acres of wetland.

Founded in 1803, the business is rich in family history. Don Ricker, seventh-generation owner, is 81 years young and still works every day alongside family business partners including his sons Harry and Peter, Jeff Timberlake and grandchildren Andy and Jenny and her husband Steve.

MGFPA awards
Jeff Timberlake, Harry Ricker and Andy Ricker, Ricker Hill Orchards.

Ricker Hill Orchards hasn’t stopped at harvesting and wholesaling its fruits. In the early 2000s, it opened a farm stand featuring a bakery with homemade donuts, a variety of value-added products, u-pick apple orchards, a disc golf course, a corn maze, sugar shack and bounce houses.

In 2014, the company launched a line of hard ciders and opened a tasting room in Turner, Maine. Recently, Ricker Hill purchased and integrated a new cider press, one of a few in North America capable of producing more than 1,000 gallons an hour.

Mark Kelley, owner of Country Farms Market, began his grocery career nearly 20 years ago when he worked in a local IGA store while still attending college. Working under the direction of Scott Carlin, IGA store owner, he gained valuable experience and skills that led him to his dream of owning and operating his own store.

When the opportunity arose in 2009, Kelley purchased his first store in Easton, Maine. With success in Easton, Kelley looked to expand and operate another store. In 2012, he purchased his second store in his hometown of Washburn. Both markets have “big store selection and small country store appeal.”

Today, Kelley not only operates the Washburn location but also collaborates with now-Easton store owner Mike Gallagher on the Country Farms Market catering business. In addition to the store business and catering, Kelley also owns and operates Country Farms Properties, with real estate in numerous towns.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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