2006 Economic Development Strategies - Produce
New Jersey’s growers annually harvest over $200 million worth of fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2003, New Jersey’s top 17 vegetable commodities were valued at $125 million and New Jersey’s fruit production of apple, blueberry, cranberry, peach and strawberry production was valued at $92 million. New Jersey’s produce industry supplies our residents with some of the healthiest and freshest fruits and vegetables available anywhere.
Local access to large affluent markets has long been an advantage for the marketing of those products. While our markets are still there, competition for those markets has become tougher. New Jersey’s produce industry must continually work to rediscover its competitive advantages – access to nearby markets and consumer loyalty.
In 2005, over 2,500 retail supermarkets, community and farmer’s markets received Jersey Fresh point of sale advertising materials. On a national level, the Department began working with such national organizations as Wal-Mart, Dole, Melissa’s Produce, Ready-Pac and Fresh Express to explore ways for New Jersey to improve its position within the national 52-week supply cycle dominated by an increasingly consolidated produce industry. Working with partners like the Produce Marketing Association the department is also expanding its focus on the foodservice market for fresh produce.
In 2006, working with the Department of Corrections, and the School Lunch Program, government purchases of New Jersey produce are targeted to increase for the fifth straight year. The Department will also continue working to open new community markets, providing growers greater direct access to consumers. As a cornerstone to quality assurance, the Department will be continuing to provide affordable third-party farm certifications.
1. PRODUCE STRATEGIES
1.01 Jersey Fresh Hospitality Industry Program
1) STRATEGY – Continue to develop and strengthen the Jersey Fresh Hospitality Industry Program.” The program will work closely with the industry and include many elements to strengthen the marketing of Jersey Fresh produce to hotel, restaurant and the institutional food service industries. The program will;
-1- Involve members of the N.J. Restaurant Association, Slow Food of Central New Jersey and local chapters of the Professional Chef’s Association.
-2- Promote participating restaurants to the public via the Internet and other means, including the NJDA website.
-3- Provide suppliers directories and point of sale advertising to the industry.
-4- Promote Jersey Fresh produce and menu themes to restaurants and culinary contests.
1.02 Increase Produce Branding
2) STRATEGY – Through the distribution of Jersey Fresh twist ties and other packing materials to growers and marketing cooperatives, the department will continue to expand the branding of Jersey Fresh produce at the point of sale
1.03 Promote Vertical Integration
3) STRATEGY - Encourage attendance at national produce industry trade shows, continue to work with representatives of nationally marketed produce brands and seek new methods to better integrate New Jersey’s produce industry into the year-round supply model.
4) STRATEGY - Promote centralized packing and increased participation in marketing cooperatives. This will provide better economies of scale to meet the packing, storing and regulatory requirements of big buyers, seeking quality standardization and better customer service.
1.04 Continue to Seek New Markets
5) STRATEGY - Continue working with the Department of Corrections to facilitate state Treasury purchases of over-produced and under-valued New Jersey farm products. Continue to increase New Jersey farm products purchases for school lunch and school breakfast programs.
6) STRATEGY - Continue supporting fresh exports of New Jersey agricultural products to Canada. Maintain industry contacts and promotion of the Jersey Fresh brand through displays at produce industry trade shows in Canada.
7) STRATEGY - Support New Jersey’s small and medium sized food processors. Help processors to find local sources of food and agricultural products, provide outreach and education about government grants and services, organize and support New Jersey State pavilions at regional and national trade shows such as the Fancy Food Show in New York City and the Food Export Showcase in Chicago, Illinois.
8) STRATEGY - Secure federal grant funding for an export development intern position responsible for the development and management of a food processor company database to provide outreach, export education and to promote the federally funded export development programs of Food Export USA.
1.05 Strengthen Existing and Seek New Community Markets
9) STRATEGY – Promote Community Market opportunities to growers. Maintain a current list of existing and new community farm markets seeking increased farmer participation. This list will be made available on the department website, distributed at grower meetings and printed in grower oriented publications.
10) STRATEGY - Promote the existence of community farm markets to the public. Maintain an interactive directory of community farmers markets on the department’s website and continue to offer community farmers market lists for publication in local papers. Distribute community farmers’ market lists to agencies responsible for distributing Farmers Market Nutrition coupons to seniors and participants in the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) nutritional program.
11) STRATEGY - Seek a rural business enterprise grant to fund research to find ways to strengthen the direct marketing practices and infrastructure in New Jersey. The goal of the study will be to determine the best practices to attract consumers and growers to community markets.
1.06 Expand Jersey Fresh Program
12) STRATEGY – Continue to strengthen the appeal of the Jersey Fresh brand to supermarket chains and all other retailers. Increase use of the Jersey Fresh brand name. Discourage the use of the “Locally Grown” product claim. Promote the third-party food certification program as part of the renewal of the Jersey Fresh brand.
13) STRATEGY - Implement the findings of the strategic evaluation of the Jersey Fresh program due to be released in January 2006.
14) STRATEGY – Award Jersey Fresh matching-funds grants to applicants with the best past performance and greatest potential industry impact.
15) STRATEGY – Continue to broaden the Jersey Fresh promotional program to be more inclusive of all New Jersey produced fruits and vegetables, especially herbs, hydroponics and greenhouse produced fruits and vegetables and update Jersey Fresh Quality Grading standards to include non-traditional produce items if necessary.
1.07 Continue Third Party Farm Certifications
16) STRATEGY – Continue providing affordable third-party farm certifications. As consolidation continues in the retail produce industry, the importance of third-party farm certifications will continue to grow, as retailers require the improved trace-back ability third-party certifications offer.
1.08 Improve Retailer and Processor Coordination
17) STRATEGY – Continue weekly dialogue, including weekly updates, involving Department representatives, growers, producers, wholesalers and retailers of New Jersey agricultural products. Conduct farmer and buyer meetings to bring retailers, processors and growers together. Assist growers in identifying local and regional fresh market processors and determining the needs of those processors.
1.09 Explore Contract Growing
18) STRATEGY – Continue working to identify contract growing opportunities to enable growers to establish a market price prior to production thereby reducing their exposure to market and price volatility. Continue the search for opportunities for New Jersey growers to better integrate into the 52-week demand cycle of large distributors and processors.
1.10 Identify Alternate Crops
19) STRATEGY – Implement the search for alternate crops that can be produced in New Jersey and identify channels of distribution for those crops. Complete the “Demographics and the Marketing of Ethnic Produce in the Mid-Atlantic States” research project that will identify new and existing crops that can be grown in New Jersey and the communities where they are preferred.
1.11 Value-Added Produce
20) STRATEGY - Evaluate Co2 flash freeze applications for a Value-Added Products Grant to study a possible ethanol plant flash freeze facility and conduct marketing research to evaluate flash freeze applications for vegetable & fruit products. In particular, marketing research will be conducted to evaluate the implications of flash freezing products for the school, institutional and foodservice markets.
21) NEW STRATEGY - Seek to determine the best practices common to New Jersey’s successful direct marketing, value added and agricultural tourism operations. Communicate those practices to the agricultural community.
1.12 Vegetable Marketing Taskforce
22) STRATEGY - Create a vegetable marketing taskforce whose charge would include new ways to reposition and market Jersey Fresh branded produce, a review of the Jersey Fresh grade standards, possible changes to the packaging of Jersey Fresh product, and a review of current communication efforts with retailers, buyers and growers.