WEB EXTRA: Program helps identify Florida-grown produce

05/07/2013 01:16:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Web Extra iconThe Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services wants to help consumers determine whether a produce item was grown instate with its Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign.

The program also may provide growers, shippers, marketers and retailers a marketing opportunity by clearly identifying items grown in Florida.

For $50 annually, food and agricultural entities can display the Fresh From Florida logo on items produced instate. The state also has incentive programs for grower-shippers and retailers.

Veg Pro International Inc. is one such grower-shipper.

The Sherring, Quebec, Canada-based firm affixes postage stamp-sized Fresh From Florida stickers to its containers of Fresh Attitude salad blends and baby spinach grown by T.K.M. Farms Inc. in Belle Glade.

Anthony Santin, vice president of operations, says the firm started using the logo at the request of one of its customers, Publix supermarkets.

"Obviously, it does have some market value," he says. "There's a good part of the population that cares about the carbon footprint and food miles, and buying local is important."

The Lakeland-based Publix chain has made a companywide effort to help educate consumers about where their produce was grown.

"For some, they want to know if they're living in a state where we're using products that are grown here," says Maria Brous, director of media and community relations.

Fresh From Florida shelf-talkerThe company is careful about not labeling a product as "locally grown," since local can mean different things to different shoppers.

Instead, Publix has chosen to identify the state in which the item was produced, she says.

In Florida, that means using the Fresh From Florida logo on shelf talkers, produce decals and other point-of-sale materials.

In addition, Publix has dedicated part of its website, https://www.publix.com/featured/AtSeasonsPeak.do, to educating customers about produce availability and what times of year items are at their peak, Brous says.

The micro-site features a produce calendar and allows users to sign up for alerts when their favorite items are coming into season.

An individual Web page is dedicated to each produce calendar item and features nutritional facts, storage tips and recipes, she says.

"I think it's an opportunity to engage, interact and educate our customers," Brous says.


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