Fortified with additional funding and more commodities, Florida’s produce marketing arm opens its latest season by beefing up its promotional efforts, including on television.

In its 14th year, the Fresh from Florida program works with retailers around the world that display the program’s logo in produce aisles and in weekly shopper advertisements.

The Tallahassee-based Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is investing $720,000 in this year’s Fresh from Florida program, more than the $500,000 it typically invests each year, said Dan Sleep, senior analyst with the agency’s division of marketing.

Partnership programs

Sleep said the program is considering a number of promotional programs it may conduct with retailers, including increasing logo incentives on packages and agreements to feature point-of-purchase materials in the stores as well as additional samplings.

The agency is partnering with some chains that plan to feature up to eight Fresh from Florida products, which Sleep said may dominate store sales that week and further increase Florida sales.

“We have seen the growth of our commodities,” Sleep said. “Our fruits, vegetables and melons have gone from $1.6 billion in sales when we started to $2.1 billion this past year. That’s pretty unexpected growth.”

Aside from the 20 or so commodities the program promotes — which include bell peppers, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, berries, citrus and tropicals — the program is expanding into broccoli and mushrooms, two items that are increasing production, Sleep said.

Media impressions

To better promote the state’s winter fruit and vegetables, Sleep said the agency plans to run some television spots in major television markets.

Although the program has used radio in the past, Sleep said the agency hasn’t advertised on television. The program’s expanded resources should help fund the television spots, he said.

Last season was the largest one the effort ever experienced, Sleep said.

At 15.4 billion impressions, he said the program generated a record number of retail impressions.

To evaluate its logo use, the agency conducted some consumer research over the summer to determine its penetration.

Compared to other brands, the Fresh from Florida logo is recognized by 60% of those surveyed.

That testing showed 40% recognition in the Southeast, and the agency is testing other areas of the country to see what the agency needs to do to make consumers more aware of the logo, Sleep said.

This marketing year, the department expects up to 13,300 individual stores to carry the Florida logo and promote Florida’s produce in their weekly store ads through the two marketing programs.

Last year, 14,000 stores participated, which included 1,888 in Canada, 2,588 in other countries and 7,672 in the U.S.

This year, the agency expects 1,974 stores in Canada and 2,750 overseas to participate, Sleep said.

Last year, 52 retail chains from 22 countries including the U.S. and Canada participated.

Each store runs an average 35 advertisements per season, making for a total of 481,000 individual store ads.