With so much emphasis being put on buying local product and supporting local growers, how does a retailer then expect to get consumers excited about purchasing an import that traveled from 8,000 miles away?

“We have opportunities for grower-attended, in-store demos, which have been very successful in promoting product, educating the consumers and raising product awareness,” said Kim Flores, marketing manager for Seald Sweet International, Vero Beach, Fla.

The product Flores is trying to boost awareness of is South African citrus.

“We really believe in product demos to show consumers firsthand what great internal eating quality these commodities have,” she said.

Having a grower on hand to answer questions helps, she said.

“The growers have great credibility with consumers, and they can explain the growing practices and information about the different varieties. Most often the customers have had questions about imports versus buying local. The growers can explain that the summer citrus season compliments our U.S. domestic winter season rather than competes and helps to continue supplying consumers with citrus year-round,” Flores said.

Chairman Johan Mouton said the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, Citrusdal, South Africa, also relies on demos to showcase its products.

“We always work with the retailers and our importer partners to create promotions which work for them and their customers,” he said.

“Historically, the in-store demos, particularly those which enable direct communications with the growers, have been very positive. It meets the clear need and interest of U.S. consumers to know more about the source of the products they purchase. Meeting the growers has been very well-received.”

Moutan said Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum is planning a display contest to boost sales. It also will offer point-of-sale materials to retailers, including recipes and meal solutions.

DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., offers promotional funds and in-store support to customers throughout the year, said South African sales manager Tom Cowan.