Regional focus builds consumer connection - The Packer

Regional focus builds consumer connection

08/02/2013 11:45:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

BrightFarms  point-of-sale materialsCourtesy BrightFarmsBrightFarms provides point-of-sale materials to its partner retailers promoting the produce grown locally in a Bright Farms greenhouse operation. -----Education efforts surround locally grown produce marketing.

Kathy Means, vice president of public affairs for the Produce Marketing Association, said she thinks one important benefit of the locally grown produce movement is the opportunity to educate consumers more on where food comes from.

“That connection with agriculture is a very important thing. We need to connect with consumers and teach them that these products don’t just appear at the grocery store,” Means said.

In addition, local produce has the opportunity to get consumers more interested in understanding where their food comes from.

“That’s one of the real benefits of local, and when a consumer starts to understand that, they can understand what grows locally, and when certain products are available,” Means said.

For example, Means mentioned Delaware produces strawberries but that the season is usually only a few weeks long.

Consumers might not understand why they can have local strawberries at that time, but not others, which is where education efforts come in.

“I’m certainly not going to just eat strawberries for that one month out of the year,” she said.

Still, by teaching consumers what is in season, it can help drive interest and demand for those products and teach consumers about the global supply chain.

The education efforts aren’t only for U.S. consumers either.

“Consumers worldwide are not aware of what it takes to bring food to the store, and it’s important that they understand their food, how it tastes, where it’s grown and what it does for our bodies,” she said.

To help in these education efforts, in-store signs seems to be the key.

“To get customer attention, signage is really important, especially at the point of sale,” said Kate Siskel, marketing and media relations manager for Bright Farms, New York.

Maps and photographs of growers are especially effective.

“The more you can promote a person with the product, even if consumers never meet this person, the more they feel connected to the product,” Siskel said.

Bright Farms uses technology to take this a step further.

“We even have an iPad set up at some markets with a slide show of the farm where produce was grown so consumers can really see the farm and how the lettuce was grown,” she said.

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