The state anticipates the new brand will be popular at retail. ( Delaware Department of Agriculture )

Delaware Grown, a new branding initiative from the Delaware Department of Agriculture, seeks to make its mark alongside Jersey Fresh and other state branding efforts.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture conducted branding research over the past 18 months to gauge consumer attitudes about locally grown produce and family farms, said Stacey Hofmann, chief of Community Relations at Delaware Department of Agriculture.

She said the effort was aided by the marketing firm Miles Partnership, Sarasota, Fla.; Delaware’s agriculture and tourism departments; and Downs & St. Germain Research, Tallahassee, Fla.

“What we found is that for most people that are coming to visit Delaware, they want to visit farm stands, and they want to go to farmers market and make that connection with the farmer,” she said. “And they realize the value that they’re getting in their produce when they’re shopping here in Delaware.”

Key findings of the research, according to a news release, were:

  • Delaware agricultural products are fresh;
  • State residents buy local produce to support their community, for its freshness, and because they enjoy shopping at farmers markets;
  • 80% of residents and visitors believe it’s important to buy from local growers of produce;
  • Top six recognized Delaware grown fruits were strawberries, watermelon, berries, apples, peaches, and cantaloupe;
  • Top six recognized Delaware grown vegetables: sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, green beans, and lettuce;
  • Millennials want to eat at restaurants that have locally grown produce on the menu; and
  • The Delaware Grown logo, designed and selected based on consumer input, was preferred overwhelmingly for capturing their attention, promoting Delaware agricultural products, and being more memorable.

The consumer research led to the creation of the new branding program, Hofmann said.

“We unveiled it January at Ag Week, and it was very popular, and the farmers were very excited to have a brand they could stand behind,” Hofmann said.

The program gives the state’s fruits and vegetables an identity they didn’t have before, she said.

“Growers in Delaware just didn’t have that so we’ve given them that option to join in to Delaware Grown and be able to promote their local fruits and vegetables and specialty crops,” she said.

Growers can contact the department for details of the program and Hofmann said the department also is reaching out to retailers about the branding effort.

She anticipates the brand will be popular.

“(Before) we had a lot of retailers calling us and asking us for logos, and I had to keep saying ‘The only thing I can give you is the Delaware Department of Agriculture logo,’ and I knew that’s what they did not want. So this will definitely be getting going over the next few months into retailers,” she said.

With 2,500 family farms, Delaware’s fresh produce growers generate $38 million in annually in sales for the state, Hofmann said.