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Agriculture Press Release
July 17, 2002
Marketing Promotions Increase Florida Produce Sales By $80 Million, Bronson Announces
TALLAHASSEE -- Three springtime marketing promotions helped boost retail sales of Florida-grown fruits and vegetables by nearly $80 million, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced.
More than 5,000 retail stores located in 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, participated in one or more of the promotions, which ran from February through May. The promotions were timed to coincide with Florida’s important winter-spring harvest which supplies the United States with most of its domestically grown produce.
Participating retail grocery chains reported 8-12 percent increases in sales of Florida produce over the previous year’s averages. Sales of several specific Florida items increased as much as 100-600 percent in some stores during the marketing promotions.
"These marketing promotions are the most extensive ever undertaken on behalf of our state’s agricultural producers," Bronson said. "We targeted metropolitan markets from here to New York and Canada, filled grocery stores with Florida-grown produce, and encouraged shoppers to buy. And buy they did -- nearly $80 million worth of additional sales."
The promotions were conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is statutorily mandated to provide professional marketing services to Florida’s agricultural community through its Division of Marketing and Development.
The three marketing promotions were:
"Northern Exposure: Win A Florida Vacation," which featured a variety of Florida produce, targeted large retail markets in the northeastern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario. The promotion was a partnership that included VISIT FLORIDA, the official marketing agency of Florida tourism. Grocery shoppers in areas targeted by the promotion could register to win free vacations to the Sunshine State, including air fare, rental car and accommodations. The 2,671 retail stores that participated in the "Northern Exposure: Win A Florida Vacation" promotion realized $59.9 million in additional sales of Florida produce. This promotion is in its first year.
"Chill It or Grill It," which featured a variety of Florida produce for use in springtime salad-making and grilling, targeted retail markets in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The 1,331 retail stores that participated in the "Chill It or Grill It" promotion realized $16.6 million in additional sales of Florida produce. This promotion is in its second year.
"Florida Sun Fresh," which featured Florida tomatoes, targeted retail markets in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The 1,002 retail stores that participated in "Florida Sun Fresh" realized $3.03 million in additional sales of Florida tomatoes. This promotion is in its third year.
"The ‘Northern Exposure’ promotion benefitted not only Florida’s agricultural producers, but our state’s tourism industry as well," Bronson said. "By partnering with VISIT FLORIDA to offer Florida vacation giveaways, this marketing promotion helped bolster tourism, which was suffering a serious downturn at that time."
Total additional sales of Florida produce generated by all three marketing promotions was calculated at $79.5 million. The total cost of the three promotions was estimated at $675,000, with approximately two-thirds of that amount paid by federal funds provided to Florida by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and earmarked for specialty crop marketing.
"The return on investment generated by these marketing promotions is quite impressive," Bronson said. "Nearly $80 million in additional retail sales translates into substantial gains for our state’s growers."
The Department’s agricultural marketing promotions do not rely solely on a "top down" mass media strategy of advertising products to consumers in hopes of generating demand. Instead, the focus is on "partnering" with grocery chains, encouraging them to "sign on" to multifaceted marketing promotions that will help increase sales.
Participating chains agree to increase their purchases of Florida products, include the Florida marketing promotion theme in their newspaper ads and inserts, and use the "Fresh from Florida" logo on advertising and point-of-sale materials. Retailers increase the size of their displays to accommodate more products, adding waterfall displays, dump bins and mobile displays, for example.
The result is a successful three-way "linkage" involving Florida producers, grocery retailers and the consuming public, in which:
Bronson attributed the success of the three promotions to personal visits and follow-ups by the Department’s marketing staff with corporate buyers and store personnel, the innovative Florida promotional themes and giveaways, and the high quality of the merchandising and advertising materials.
"Face-to-face meetings with corporate buyers is the key," Bronson said. "When our marketing representatives presented them with the Florida theme and merchandising materials, and explained the ability of Florida growers to meet the demand, we had a retail partner."
As a result of the increased demand for Florida produce generated by the state’s marketing campaigns, Florida farmers are harvesting more spring produce acreage, according to the USDA.
USDA statistics indicate that Florida farmers are capitalizing on these marketing opportunities by increasing their acreage, while the Sunshine State’s main domestic competitors are losing market share and reducing their acreage. According to the USDA Economic Research Service 2002 Spring Report, Florida spring produce acreage is up 1 percent, while Texas is down 12 percent, California is down 3 percent, and Georgia is down 2 percent.
"While other states are cutting back in planting, Florida is increasing," Bronson said. "Aggressive marketing works, and we intend to enhance our promotional efforts on behalf of our state’s growers."
Since the "Florida Sun Fresh" campaign was launched three years ago, Florida tomato growers have steadily increased harvested acres to meet demand: 12,200 acres in 2000; 16,500 acres in 2001; and 17,000 acres in 2002.
"Many grocery chains are already asking about next year and are eager to participate again," Bronson said. "This is continued good news for Florida growers."
Dan Arnold, regional sales manager for Noble Worldwide Citrus Sales, said the Florida citrus producer and shipper realized a substantial increase in sales in markets where its tangerines were featured as part of the springtime promotions.
"The promotion on the Noble tangerine came off with a big success for our company. The Noble tangerines saw an increase of 27 percent over last year," Arnold said. "We made a big splash with the ‘Win A Florida Vacation’ program. This promotion is a great opportunity to increase sales and helps the industry to move volume on tangerines."
A spokesman for Publix Supermarkets, Inc., headquartered in Lakeland, said the "Chill It or Grill It" promotion helped heighten consumer awareness of how well fresh fruits and vegetables complement springtime activities.
"The ‘Chill It or Grill It’ promotion was a great way to remind our customers of the versatility of vegetables and fruits. And the prizes definitely helped drive home the point about produce’s ability to be eaten chilled or grilled. Overall the promotion created a nice buzz within Publix’s produce departments," the corporate spokesperson said.
Examples of comments received from grocery retailers in the northeastern United States that participated in the "Northern Exposure: Win A Florida Vacation" promotion:
"The promotion was so well laid out that I basically had nothing to do but accept the praise from our section vice president," said the director of produce sales for Tops/Ahold, a major grocery chain headquartered near Buffalo, N.Y.
"We like the ‘Fresh from Florida’ logo. We would definitely participate in this promotion again. The promotion definitely raised awareness for Florida produce," said an assistant sales manager with Jewel-Osco, a major grocery chain headquartered in Melrose Park, Ill.
"The ‘Win a Florida Vacation’ promotion created excitement for Florida produce like we’ve never had before," said the corporate director of produce for Roundy’s Incorporated, a major grocery chain headquartered near Milwaukee, Wis.
"The spring promotion from Florida was a great success. We were rewarded with extra sales. We look forward to partnering in future promotions," said a produce sales manager with P&C Food & Pharmacy, a major grocery chain headquartered in Syracuse, N.Y.
Other major chains participating in the promotions included Albertson’s, Safeway, Acme, Spartan Stores, A&P, Shaw’s, Pathmark, Giant Foods, Tops Stores, Publix, Winn-Dixie, and Super Wal-Mart.
The three springtime produce marketing promotions are part of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ ongoing Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign, an identification and promotional program designed to boost the image of Florida agriculture and increase sales by helping consumers to easily identify Florida-grown agricultural products at retail stores. The multimedia campaign also helps increase public awareness of the importance of Florida’s $7 billion agriculture industry to the state’s economy.