Produce marketing comes full circle - The Packer

Produce marketing comes full circle

04/26/2013 09:18:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Andy Nelson, Markets EditorAndy Nelson, Markets EditorYear-round coverage, 365 days a year, extending the season.

They’re all phrases that have been burned into my brain after years of hearing them repeated by shippers and marketers.

In the old days, you had most fresh fruits and vegetables for let’s say half the year, depending on where you lived.

Then you switched to canned or frozen for the other half.

In modern times, however, the fresh produce industry bends over backward to guarantee customers they can have their favorite fruits and vegetables in fresh mode whenever they want.

It’s a wonderful thing, of course — a testament to the energy and innovative spirit of the industry, not to mention gains in logistics and refrigeration technology.

But in the 21st century, we have the locally grown revolution acting as a counter force to 24/7/365, and it’s been interesting to see its effects on even the largest industries.

Commodities that used to focus on extending their seasons reversed direction to focus on seasonality.

Among the more notable examples has been the California avocado industry, which refocused its efforts on months when fruit is at its absolute peak, and backed it up with its homey, grower-focused Hand Grown in California marketing campaign.

Now another industry stalwart, the Georgia peach, is trying a similar approach, focusing on a narrower window rather than a wider one.

Georgia in July

If Will McGehee, salesman for Genuine Georgia Group and Pearson Farm, Fort Valley, Ga., can be believed, you won’t be hearing much talk of “extending the season” this year out of Georgia.

McGehee has his sights set on a single summer month.

“‘Georgia in July’ is the jingle we’re talking to retailers about,” he said.

“All our eggs are in the July basket. It’s a little different from the past, when we’d have the whole season.”

McGehee’s marketing focus is so tight this year he’s even narrowing it within his month of choice.

“We’re targeting the two weeks after the Fourth as the key season.”

There’s a “natural hangover” in the fruit market after the Fourth, he said. But instead of giving up on post-Fourth sales, Genuine Georgia Group is taking the opposite approach.

“We think there’s an opportunity to bring excitement to that week,” he said. “It can give retailers something to hang their hat on.”

Mother Nature has cooperated nicely with this year’s big July push in Georgia.

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