“There’s not necessarily more interest, but the supermarkets are making (shoppers) more aware of the local,” Gregory said. “The promotion of local helps our industry a lot. Everyone, even if they’re not in a Kroger or a Publix, they’re still asking the independents if the product is Georgia grown. Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, they’re all doing good pushing the retailers to advertise more local grown.”
A Midwest native, Howard Mundt, president of Harvest Brokerage, Atlanta, said Detroit had fruit stands on many corners while such stores are making a comeback in Chicago.
He said interest in farmers’ markets hasn’t increased that much in the Atlanta area but points to the DeKalb Farmers Market, which attracts shoppers.
“Customers want to feature regional and local produce,” Mundt said. “Walk into any Kroger or Publix store and you see local. They will stay with the local product because it’s cheaper.”
Cliff Sherman, owner of Sunbelt Produce Distributors Inc., Forest Park, said demand may be overblown.
“We’re not seeing demand,” he said. “A lot of people are screaming local but they go with what works best for them. I don’t think it really matters that much.”