PLANT CITY, Fla. — Wish Farms is increasing its acreage and adding more muscle to its marketing.

This season, the grower-shipper plans to ship around 4 million flats from 1,500 acres, up from more than 3 million flats last year. The acreage figure reflects a 20% increase, said Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer.

Wish Farms ramping up acreage, marketing effortsIn early December, Wish Farms hired Danielle Dominguez as marketing and promotions coordinator.

Dominguez previously worked for Triad Retail Media in St. Petersburg which does marketing for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s

Dominguez joins Amber Kosinsky, Wish Farms’ director of marketing, to help support the company’s promotional efforts. Elizabeth Peterson, social media and public relations manager and Wishnatzki’s daughter, also helps but is on maternity leave, Kosinsky said.

Before Kosinsky joined in 2011, Wish Farms employed a marketing firm.

Dominguez’s presence should help as Wish Farms inaugurates its Feb. 7-8 Strawberry Picking Challenge, sponsorship of the Feb. 27 to March 9 Florida Strawberry Festival, and becomes more involved in promoting to the consumer via increasing its social media activity.

One such activity is distributing single-servings of berries at Radio Disney’s Dec. 31 Noon New Year’s Eve at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.

Wish Farms ramping up acreage, marketing efforts“With the whole branding and consumer connection, there are a lot of opportunities now to be able to connect with the consumers,” Kosinsky said. “It’s still a challenge to find the best route to go, but social media isn’t as expensive as traditional advertising. If you wanted to build a brand in the past, it was very expensive and not very practical. Now there are opportunities out there that didn’t exist five years ago.”

One way Wish Farms attempts to help its retailer better plan for running strawberry promotions is through a forecasting technique developed in 2006 by a University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.

Originally developed to track production of the popular festival variety, Wish Farms modified the tool that counts blooms to provide retail customers berry shipment forecasts three to four weeks out.