Blessed be the homegrown ties - The Packer

Blessed be the homegrown ties

04/30/2002 12:00:00 AM
Jody Shee

Last August, Redner’s Markets Inc., Reading, Pa., attracted media coverage of a one-day event at one of its 32 stores when it hosted the state secretary of agriculture for a ceremony outside the store.

The ag secretary stood beside a 24-foot display of cantaloupe and tree fruit grown by area farmers. Pennsylvania Simply Delicious banners decorated the front of the display.

“We had 12 farmers who attended the ceremony and all were recognized that day for being an integral part of the Pennsylvania farming community,” says produce director Gary O’Brien.

Radio, television and newspaper reporters captured the story of the state’s Simply Delicious program, he says.

Check with your state department of agriculture to see if government officials participate in similar visits. In O’Brien’s case, the department of agriculture and the chain sent out press releases to the media inviting the coverage.

In its long-standing Jersey Fresh program, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture sends its secretary of agriculture out on retail visits at the start of the season, says Ronald Good, bureau chief of market development.

The department also provides general Jersey Fresh price cards and specific ones for sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, peaches and blueberries. It also offers banners, 8-foot bin wraps and short radio spots.

Virginia’s Finest and Fresh from Florida also are solid programs for retailers in those states. There’s plenty of point-of-sale material available to carry the message through your department.

A few other states are beginning retail promotions to push homegrown produce. Pride of New York and Buy California are examples.

“We’re planning to come out with the Buy California program in mid-June or a little after. The main purpose will be informing Californian’s why it’s a good idea to buy California agricultural products, not just because it’s healthy and wholesome, but it’s good for the economy,” says Ralph Watts, chief executive officer for the Buy California program.

He notes that agriculture is nearly a $27 billion industry in California, and one in seven jobs in the state is related to agriculture. Therefore, the program message will be “Buy California. It’s good for the state. It’s good for you,” he says.

The program will include a logo, POS and possibly radio and television commercials, he adds.

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