Strawberry group using social media and Internet to spur consumer interest - The Packer

Strawberry group using social media and Internet to spur consumer interest

01/04/2011 05:40:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Harrell said the association hasn’t used the new media as much in the past. Though it has a website, the group didn’t utilize it much further, she said.

To entertain foodservice interest, the association is planning to sponsor a Florida chef’s harvest tour.

The tour, which the group is planning to hold in February, is set to have a group of chefs from Florida restaurants and private clubs tour strawberry fields, meet with growers and see packing and handling operations during the March 3-13 Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City.

For prizes, the association plans to award $500 gift cards through a random drawing of participating chefs that prove they support Florida strawberries through copies of menus featuring signature strawberry dishes or invoices documenting berry purchases.

The association also plans to award two $1,000 gift cards to recognize larger restaurant chain efforts promoting the state’s berries.

For retail, the association plans to promote Florida berries through media kits. The association plans to provide posters and other artwork that supermarkets can download and customize for their own in-store signs to use in strawberry displays.

A recipe brochure featuring winning recipes of a recipe contest the association sponsored with the Birmingham, Ala.-based Taste of the South magazine is to be made available via download and for distribution to consumers in the produce aisle, Harrell said.

Eight pages in the December 2010/January 2011 magazine issue feature articles about eating, handling and nutrition and photos of the strawberry recipes that the association plans to feature on its website.

“When we started looking at all of these cool recipes that came in, we saw some neat things,” Campbell said.

“Once you get chefs excited, they are so creative and are wonderful people with the way they create their dishes.”

Campbell said foodservice is important. He said he saw so many innovative produce products being released for foodservice use during the Oct. 15-18 Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2010 in Orlando.

“We are tying in other produce products with strawberries in ways that aren’t always conventional uses,” Campbell said.

“We have had a succession of success stories with the Taste of the South, did a chef’s tour last season and ran promotions with the recipes. We can spread the winning recipes around and keep it flowing as much as we can.”

Steve Machell, sales manager for Gulf Coast Produce Inc., said he’s impressed with the association’s marketing efforts.

“Jammer will be our Nike swoosh, the checkmark, so to speak, which will be our identity and help increase sales,” Machell said.

“The growers association has done a phenomenal job with the new varieties and has now really embraced the need to do more marketing. They’re becoming much more attuned to the marketing side as well.”

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