(June 23, PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) In a promotion celebrating the ending of Maine’s white potato season, grower-shippers, the Maine Potato Board and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. participated in a promotion that encouraged Maine’s shoppers to “Get Real Get Maine!” and buy local or regionally-grown produce.

Ken Gray, vice president of sales and marketing for Bushwick Potato Co. Inc., Farmingdale, N.Y., which markets the state’s potatoes, said the promotion, which kicked off May 21 in a Waterville, Maine, Wal-Mart Super Center, ran in late May and created a lot of excitement about Maine’s potatoes. The event, he said, also raised consumer awareness of regional produce through all of Wal-Mart’s Maine stores.

“It was good to have the commissioner of agriculture at the store to get consumers to understand that there are lots of fresh and high quality produce in their backyard,” Gray said. “The event also helped children learn more about the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.”

While shipments of Maine’s white potatoes ended in early June, Gray said the state’s russets are expected to ship through early July.

Guerrette Farms, a Caribou, Maine, grower-shipper, worked with Bushwick on the promotion.

Promotion raises awareness about Maine potatoes
Mascots representing Maine's agricultural industries such as dairy and potatoes were on hand at one of the state's Wal-Mart locations in May during the "Get Real Get Maine!" promotion. The campaign urged consumers to buy locally produced perishables.