Agriculture Press Release

August 6, 2003

Marketing promotions increase Florida produce sales by $173 million
More than double the sales increases accomplished in 2002, Bronson announces

TALLAHASSEE -- Sometimes the sequel is better than the original, and according to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson, that certainly is the case for three springtime produce marketing promotions recently concluded by his Department on behalf of Florida’s farmers.

The promotions helped boost retail sales of Florida-grown fresh fruits and vegetables by $173 million, more than doubling the sales increases generated in 2002.

A total of 8,289 retail stores -- located in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario -- 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 5 to 35 percent increases in overall sales of Florida produce over the previous year’s averages. Sales of several specific Florida items increased as much as 500 percent in some stores during the marketing promotions.

“These figures are astounding because they represent additional sales, which are over and above the substantial increases of last year,” Bronson said. “The ‘Fresh from Florida’ name has become a huge draw, and that is continued good news for Florida growers.”

The Promotions

The three 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. They 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 provinces of Ontario and Quebec. 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 5,286 retail stores that participated in the “Northern Exposure” promotion realized $144.8 million in additional sales of Florida produce over last year. This promotion is in its second year.

-- “Greetings From Your Florida Farmers,” which featured a variety of Florida produce for use in springtime salad-making and grilling, targeted retail markets in Florida. The 1,336 retail stores that participated in the “Greetings” promotion realized $16.7 million in additional sales of Florida produce over last year. This promotion is a variation of a previous campaign that ran the two previous years.

-- “Florida Tomato Marketing Partnership,” which featured Florida tomatoes, targeted retail markets in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. The 1,667 retail stores that participated in this promotion realized $12 million in additional sales of Florida tomatoes over last year. This promotion is in its fourth year.

The total cost of the three promotions was estimated at $454,000, with approximately half of that amount paid by federal funds provided to Florida by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earmarked for specialty crop marketing.

“The return on investment generated by these marketing promotions is quite impressive,” Bronson said. “For every one dollar invested in these campaigns, there was a return of $383 in additional produce sales. Over $173 million in additional retail sales translates into substantial gains for Florida growers and the overall economy of our state.”

How They Work

The three springtime produce marketing promotions are part of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ ongoing “Fresh from Florida” 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 agriculture industry, which generates $7 billion in farm receipts yearly and has an annual overall economic impact estimated at $54 billion.

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 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:

-- Florida producers plant, harvest and ship additional products to meet the anticipated increased demand.

-- Retail grocery corporate buyers increase their purchases of Florida products, and “front load” the shipments to handle the increase in sales.

-- Customers are targeted with “Fresh from Florida” promotional themes through media advertising and recall those promotional themes when shopping, thus increasing their purchases.

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 vacation giveaways, and the high quality of the merchandising and advertising materials.

“The retail chains we partnered with last year were eager to come onboard again this year,” Bronson said. “Plus, an additional 14 chains joined the promotions this year.”

Benefits to Florida Farmers

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 U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA statistics indicate that, for the second straight year, Florida growers are capitalizing on these marketing opportunities by increasing their acreage, while two of the Sunshine State’s main domestic competitors are losing market share and reducing their acreage. According to the USDA Economic Research Service Spring Report, from 2002 to 2003 Florida spring produce acreage is up 4 percent, while Texas is down 16 percent and California is down 2 percent.

“While Texas and California are cutting back their spring harvests, Florida is increasing,” Bronson said. “These highly successful marketing promotions are clearly benefitting our state’s growers, and that’s good for Florida’s economy.”

For example, to meet the higher demand, Florida growers have increased their harvested spring tomato acres in recent years: 12,200 acres in 2000; 16,500 acres in 2001; 17,000 acres in 2002; and 18,000 acres in 2003.

Retail Grocery Partners

“The drastic increase in the number of retail grocery stores that joined this year’s marketing promotions is a testament to last year’s huge success,” Bronson said. “Retailers demand proof of performance, and they saw it in these promotions. All the participants from last year joined up again this year, plus we picked up an additional 3,189 stores.”

Grocery retailers participating in the “Northern Exposure” promotion include: Acme, A&P, AWI Shurfine, Bi-Lo, C&S, Dominick’s, Farmer Jack, Farm Fresh, Fleming, Fleming-Midwest, Fortinos, Genuadis, Giant, Harris-Teeter, Jewel-Osco, Kohl’s, Kroger, Loblaws, Market Basket, Meijers, Metro, Nash Finch, National Grocers, Pathmark, Price Chopper, Roundy’s, Safeway, Shop Rite, Sobeys, Spartan, The Kitchen Table, Tops, Ukrop’s, Zehrs.

Grocery retailers participating in the “Greetings From Your Florida Farmers” promotion include: Albertsons, Kash ‘N’ Karry, Publix, Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie.

Grocery retailers participating in the “Florida Tomato Marketing Partnership” promotion include: Albertsons, Bruno’s, Kash ‘N’ Karry, Kroger, SuperValu and Wal-Mart.

Examples of comments received from grocery retailers in the northeastern United States that participated in the “Northern Exposure: Win A Florida Vacation” promotion:

-- Joel Singer of Fleming: “The snap beans doubled in sales when advertised as ‘Fresh from Florida’ in the circular.”

-- John Black of AWI-Shurfine: “We normally sell one case of grapefruit per day, but we’re selling three to four cases per day when advertised as ‘Fresh from Florida’ in our circulars.”

-- Chris Van Parys of Farm Fresh: “Farm Fresh experiences 300-500 percent uplift when an item is featured in our circulars, and about 75 percent of our produce is from Florida.”

-- Jim Hensel of AWI-Shurfine: “Usually Florida sweet corn sells one case per day, but they are selling 20 cases per day since the ‘Fresh from Florida’ promotion.”

-- Alain Pare of Metro: “For the six-week promotion we sold a total of 63,644 cases (of Florida strawberries), and last year in the same period we sold a total of 20,000 cases.”

Note to news media: High-resolution images to accompany this press release can be downloaded from florida-agriculture.com/photos. File names are as follows:

08-06-03a Map: Participating states

08-06-03b Chart: Increases in retail sales

08-06-03c Chart: Increase in participating stores

08-06-03d Diagram: Linkage marketing strategy

08-06-03e Chart: Florida grows more fruits and vegetables

08-06-03f Chart: Florida tomatoes increased acreage

08-06-03g Logo: Fresh from Florida

08-06-03h Photo: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson

For Information:
Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022


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