Georgia’s agricultural marketing arm is working to persuade more shoppers to place Georgia products in their shopping carts.
In its third year after a rebranding, the Georgia Grown program tries to identify Georgia produce and other specialty foods in supermarkets and in restaurants.
The program is being implemented in phases that involve informing producers and distributors about the program and label and increasing consumer awareness, said Matthew Kulinski, deputy director of marketing for the Atlanta-based Georgia Department of Agriculture.
On April 22, the agency sponsored a symposium to show how Georgia Grown members can grow their sales and learn how to start food businesses.
“One of the worries we have is once we grow this demand, will there be great demand for Georgia Grown products?” Kulinski said. “What we are hearing from many of these distributors is that there is great demand for Georgia Grown products. We want to make sure there’s enough of it to meet that demand, especially with a variety of products.”
In their displays, retailers, including Kroger Co., Cincinnati, and JH Harvey Co. LLC, Nashville, Ga., are using Georgia Grown point-of-sale material including signage, photos and information on growers.
During Georgia’s season, Kroger promotes watermelon by affixing a Georgia Grown program logo on bulk watermelon bins.
The display serves as a large billboard heralding the availability of the fruit in the middle of the chain’s produce departments, Kulinski said.
Grower participation is also increasing. Kulinski said retailers are telling their suppliers that they want to sell more of their produce using the Georgia Grown logo.
Georgia’s peach industry plans to use a “Georgia In July” promotional program to tell shoppers when to purchase the state’s peaches.
Citing consumer research from the West Dundee, Ill.-based Nielsen Perishables Group Inc., the Byron-based Georgia Peach Council is focusing on brand recognition and showing retailers that July is the best time to promote one of the state’s signature fruits.
Though the council plans to run magazine advertisements, the program’s promotional push will be through in-store merchandising, visits with retailers and through social media, said Will McGehee, the council’s marketing director and sales manager for the Fort Valley, Ga.-based Genuine Georgia Group and Pearson Farm.
He cited Nielsen data that shows shoppers that place peaches in their carts bring an average basket ring of $75, 35% higher than regular grocery rings.
“Our message to retailers is to really get aggressive promoting peaches,” McGehee said. “Let peaches do the work for them. The stores have to display them and become known as the place to get peaches. The shoppers who are looking for peaches also buy a lot of other stuff. It isn’t our data.”
The council was developing the program’s details, but McGehee said social media customized to the individual retailers should be more effective than a blanket media approach.
“As everyone’s taking pictures of their food and posting them on Facebook, working with social media seems to be the new way to communicate with consumers,” he said. “We have found each retailer has their own marketing philosophy. We are partnering with the marketing arms of our retailers to carry that message out through different social media networks.”