Jersey Fresh programs remain vital to Northeast

05/30/2012 01:32:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

He said stores run out of materials and reorder, which Murray said shows the level of retail interest in the promotions.

Interest in locally grown produce fuels demand for Jersey-grown produce, he said.

“What has happened is because local has become so big, these retailers have to have locally grown in their produce section,” Murray said.

“That’s how big this trend is. This has gone from them supporting the local farmers because it’s the right thing to do now to being the right business thing to do because consumers are asking them for local grown.

“Local has become a very powerful marketing venue. The retailers realize it and they support Jersey Fresh more than they ever have.”

While various lettuces, leafy greens, cabbage, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, blueberries and peaches remain the largest production items,

New Jersey grows up to 120 varieties of fresh produce, Murray said.

He said the state is one of the top producers of blueberries, greens, herbs, spinach, peaches and cranberries.

Supermarket support remains strong.

“Over the 28 years we’ve had this program, retailers have always been fantastic and supportive of it,” Murray said.

“We couldn’t ask any more from them.”

The agency’s budget remains at $150,000, similar to recent years. In the past, the state invested up to $1.2 million in the program.

During times of steep state budget cuts, Murray said the state relies on support from U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop grants to help complement the agency’s promotional efforts.


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