Though Florida produces fewer crates of sweet corn in the fall, the grower-shippers still conduct a level of promotions to keep retailers and consumers interested in purchasing fresh ears throughout the fall and winter.
The Florida Sweet Corn Exchange, Maitland, has added point-of-sale materials retailers can view on the group’s website, www.freshsupersweetcorn.com, which it revamped in the spring.
The Florida Sweet Exchange created a price card promoting Florida sweet corn using a U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop grant administered through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Because of the site, retailers have access to the industry’s materials and can begin ordering them before the retail merchandisers are out making retail visits.
The corn exchange plans to use a $165,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop grant administered through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee, to conduct consumer and retail trade research.
That research, which is scheduled to begin in the fall, includes development of retail-oriented materials that provide information and ideas retailers can use to promote corn, said Jason Stemm, associate vice president of New York-based Lewis & Neale Inc., which does the exchange’s marketing and public relations.
Using another specialty crops grant, the exchange conducted consumer research and retail interviews through the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences from fall 2001 to spring 2002 including a category management study involving the Perishables Group, West Dundee, Ill.
That material has provided the corn group educational information and retail point-of-sale materials as well as information on corn handling.
The funding is helping the group show retailers they can promote corn throughout the year instead of primarily during the spring when volumes are high.
Retailers can find opportunities for promotions during the fall when many grill at football game tailgate parties as well as during Thanksgiving, Stemm said.
“Retailers have traditionally had a summer mindset and not thought so much about merchandising corn throughout the year,” he said. “Our program will give retailers ideas and opportunities to include more corn promotions throughout the year.”
Stores often feature overwraps for stewing or roasting vegetables.
Stemm advises supermarkets to add an ear of corn alongside the potatoes or root vegetables they’re packing in the mixed packs.
“Rather than putting corn in the big bin at the end of the aisle in the summer as a loss leader, and showcasing corn on the front page of a Memorial Day or Labor Day advertisement with those discounted pricing, retailers have found promoting corn can be a profit maker for them,” he said.
Category managers who use less aggressive pricing and promote corn during nonpeak seasons can help retailers make a little profit on corn rather than treating it as a summer loss leader, Stemm said.
Most of Florida’s corn volume begins in late March and early April.