The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services promotes Florida produce with its Fresh From Florida marketing program, and spring is a busy time. ( Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services )

Spring is an active marketing season for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and department officials say there are more items than ever to promote.

For spring, the department’s Fresh from Florida marketing arm will offer an array of incentives for retailers across the state, as well as the eastern U.S. and Canada, said Mindy Lee, bureau chief with Fresh From Florida.

“This highly successful program encourages the purchase of ‘Fresh From Florida’ fruits and vegetables by promoting them in circular advertising, in-store samplings, e-couponing, custom point-of-purchase materials, product displays and targeted social media campaigns,” she said.

“These types of partnerships promote the Fresh From Florida brand directly to consumers while increasing sales for Florida producers and the participating retailers.”

Additionally, Fresh From Florida will coordinate specific commodity promotion in partnership with industry associations and federal grant programs, Lee said.

There’s a lot to promote during the spring, Lee said.

On average, Florida supplied 100% of temple oranges, 70% of sweet corn, and 55% of snap beans sold on the U.S. market from 2014-17, she said.


New crops to promote

Florida has gotten into peaches in recent years, and the state is marketing them heavily, particularly in April, when it has a window virtually to itself, Lee said.

“Peaches are still a relatively new item in Florida and we will continue to assist in promoting them,” she said. “Consumers and retailers are not conditioned to connect peaches to Florida.”

Additional new crops are Asian vegetables, which are being grown across the state and in greater concentration in the St. Augustine/Hastings area of North Florida, Lee said. 

“Chinese cabbage, bok choy, beans, bitter melon, Chinese broccoli and many other Asian herbs and vegetables are being grown,” she said. “As these items become more mainstream, there will be a need from mainstream retailers to expand their offerings.”

Sweet potato acreage in Florida has increased in recent years, Lee said.

“This represents the first domestic sweet potatoes of the growing season prior to the traditional Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina sweet potato deal in late summer,” she said.

Another up-and-coming crop in Florida — the Hastings area, in particular — is Brussels sprouts, Lee said.

“Growers in that area have long grown cabbage but recently branched out to other cole crops, such as broccoli and cauliflower and Brussels sprouts,” she said.