South Carolina Dept. of Ag
Increases in local fruit and vegetable sales will be one way that South Carolina agriculture grows from its current $34 billion value in 2009 to about $50 billion by 2020, according to Martin Eubanks, director of the marketing department for the Agricultural Services Division of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth in the state, and we think (reaching $50 billion) is very doable in the next 10 years,” he said. Eubanks said the PMA’s Fresh Summit provides growers and marketers from the state a great opportunity to find new ways to market and merchandise.
Southwind Farms, Heyburn, Idaho, has offered its fingerling potatoes to foodservice operators but now is introducing the product to the retail market, said Robert Tominaga, president. The fingerlings will be sold in cartons of 12 1.5-pound bags of yellow, purple and red varieties as well as a mixed medley containing all three kinds.
Bringing a focus on creating customer success served as the main message at Fresh Summit for Stemilt Growers Inc., said West Mathison, president of Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash.
“I think it is even more important in these times of prices deflation, the question of how do we use category strategy to drive more sales when you’ve got deflationary pressure going on,” he said.
That calls for creative solutions that could include ancillary displays, placement of recipes and really pushing the sustainability commitment of Stemilt, he said.
“For us, the sustainability message is just awesome because it is something that has been our culture and the way we wake up every single day,” he said. “People want to know about it and it’s been fun to tell that story.”
SunCoast Produce Inc., Royal Palm Beach, Fla., is packing 4-pound bags of navel oranges under its Simply Sweet brand, said Neal Cunningham, salesman.
The new pack will be ready to ship in about four weeks, Cunningham said, and is meant for retail customers.
Winter Haven, Fla.-based SunnyRidge Farm Inc. is shipping certified pesticide-free blueberries, and the company will begin shipping certified organic blueberries in March or April, said Heather Forshee, communications and public relations coordinator.
SunnyRidge also grows conventional blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.
The firm, which sources from Florida, Georgia and Oregon, may transition other berry varieties to organic, too, Forshee said. “We’re definitely looking to extend that operation. We’re looking at new opportunities.”