Growers promote springtime availability of Florida sweet corn

03/09/2010 08:24:33 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Along with its usual retail-focused promotions, Florida’s sweet corn growers and packers plan to use new media to help show consumers that Florida fresh sweet corn is available during other times of the year.

Through the Maitland-based Florida Sweet Corn Exchange, the industry plans to continue to spread the word that Florida fresh sweet corn is available throughout the fall, winter and spring, not just during the summer, which many shoppers associate with corn.

Prolonged freezing weather which struck Palm Beach County and Homestead, Fla., growing regions in January didn’t affect spring plantings and Jason Stemm, associate vice president of the New York-based Lewis & Neale Inc., the exchange’s marketing and public relations firm, said the freeze hasn’t prompted the industry to adjust any of its promotional programs.

Changes in technology and digital connectivity have forced everyone to reconsider how they are reaching consumers, Stemm said.

Social media focus
The industry plans to construct a fan page on Facebook to build a community of corn lovers to share recipes and ideas to enjoy Florida supersweet corn and to support the growing presence of retail chains.

“Florida corn growers are looking to utilize the opportunities that the social Web offers by conversing directly with consumers,” he said.  “The expansion of high-speed connectivity and growth of smart phones have helped the social web develop quickly. Engagement with consumers is an opportunity and challenge in this new space as we all try to evolve from the traditional paradigm of pushing out information to the masses via print and broadcast outlets to a conversation directly with the end user.”

To support this change in communication, Stemm said Florida’s corn industry is retooling its Web site to better serve the needs of consumers and retailers. One page will be dedicated to point of sale and training support.

The industry plans to work with newspaper and magazine food writers and editors and television personalities such as Mr. Food as well as others in the social media, such as bloggers, to help build awareness that fresh corn is available in the market in April and May, Stemm said.

Florida typically produces its biggest promotable corn volume during April and May.

The industry has developed relationships with leading food publications to get them to start thinking about corn availability earlier in the year.

Those investments have seen them featuring more corn-based recipes throughout the year, particularly in the spring, Stemm said.

Retail support

A team of retail merchandisers remains in close contact with retail buyers and category mangers and updates them on what consumers think about buying corn.


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