2007 Economic Development Strategies - Produce Industry
New Jersey’s growers annually provide almost $240 million worth of the healthiest and freshest fruits and vegetables available anywhere. In 2005, New Jersey’s top 17 vegetable commodities were valued at $124 million and New Jersey’s fruit production of apple, blueberry, cranberry, peach and strawberry production was valued at $114 million.
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 improving access to nearby markets and strengthening consumer loyalty.
In 2006 the department introduced a new Jersey Fresh marketing campaign that highlights the freshness of New Jersey’s locally grown produce. The new campaign’s message, “Jersey Fresh, as Fresh as Fresh Gets” was advertised in print, and through radio and television media buys. To reinforce the media buys over 2,500 retail supermarkets, community and farmer’s markets received Jersey Fresh advertising materials to brand New Jersey produce at the point of sale. Through industry visits and involvement with the Eastern Produce Council the department continues to closely coordinate advertising program with our regions major buyers and retailers. In partnership with the New Jersey Restaurant Association 350 restaurants participated in the “Proud to Offer Jersey Fresh” signage program. Working closely with the Produce News, Produce Business and the Packer national industry publications the department continues to keep the Jersey Fresh program in the national spotlight Through active membership and participation in the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association and the Produce Marketing Association trade shows the Jersey Fresh program’s high profile is supported and maintained at the national level.
In the midst of the 2006 growing season an important of benefit of the Jersey Fresh marketing and public relations program was realized. The Department, working in close coordination with regional and national industry contacts, was able to move quickly to create and place Jersey Fresh spinach advertising specifically designed to mitigate the impact the year’s major food safety issue to New Jersey growers.
In 2006 state food purchasing programs received $3 million to support locally grown, nutrient dense foods consistent with good dietary guidelines. In 2007, working with the Department of Corrections, and the School Lunch Program, state government purchases of New Jersey produce are targeted to increase for the sixth straight year. The department will also continue to manage the Emergency Food Assistance Program that distributes over 10 million pounds of USDA commodities to 660 food pantries, soup kitchens and other feeding operations.
Work will continue to open new community markets, providing growers greater direct access to consumers. As a cornerstone to quality assurance, the Department will continue to provide affordable third-party farm certifications.
1. PRODUCE STRATEGIES
1.00 Produce Safety Task Force
1) STRATEGY – The recently announced produce safety taskforce will examine the ways in which New Jersey’s fruit and vegetable growers can continue offering the high quality locally grown products enjoyed by our residents, and those of surrounding areas, while adapting their operations to new food-safety standards.
1.01 Jersey Fresh Hospitality Industry Program
2) 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. Continue to involve members of the NJ Restaurant Association, Slow Food of Central NJ and local chapters of the Professional Chef’s Association.
2. Continue to promote participating restaurants to the public via the internet and other means, including the NJDA website.
3. Continue to provide supplier 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
3) STRATEGY– Through the distribution of Jersey Fresh materials to growers, marketing cooperatives and retailers the department will continue to expand the branding of Jersey Fresh on packaging and at the point of sale
1.03 Promote Vertical Integration
4) STRATEGY- Encourage industry 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.
5) STRATEGY - Promote improved communication and greater coordination between the Eastern Coast growing regions. Work with other state departments of agriculture to develop a database of East Coast growers and marketing cooperatives seeking improved communication and coordination.
1.04 Continue to Seek New Markets
6) STRATEGY - Continue working to build and strengthen the Department of Corrections purchases and the school breakfast and lunch programs and distribution to emergency feeding organizations to facilitate state purchases of New Jersey farm products. Promote the food bank and emergency feeding organizations as potential markets to New Jersey’s agricultural producers and processors.
7) STRATEGY- Continue supporting fresh exports of New Jersey agricultural products to the New England States and Canada. Through industry visits and participation in such shows as the New England Produce Council and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association trade shows keep key industry contacts current on New Jersey agriculture and the latest promotions of the Jersey Fresh brand.
1.05 Strengthen Existing and Seek New Community Markets
8) STRATEGY – Promote Community Market opportunities to growers. Through a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant work to identify the best practices, costs and benefits of direct marketing to New Jersey agricultural producers. Maintain a current list of existing and new community farm markets that seek increased farmer participation.
9) 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.
1.06 Expand Jersey Fresh Program
10) 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.
11) STRATEGY– Increase the budget for the Jersey Fresh matching-funds grant program and continue to award grants to applicants with the best past performance and greatest potential industry impact.
12) 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, ethnic produce items and seek to update Jersey Fresh Quality Grading standards to include non-traditional produce items if necessary.
1.07 Continue Third Party Food Safety Certifications
13) STRATEGY – Continue providing affordable third-party farm certifications. As Food Safety increases in importance, and 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. Use the Jersey Fresh brand to promote the food safety of New Jersey agricultural products to supermarket chains and all other retailers.
1.08 Improve Retailer and Processor Coordination
14) 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.
15) STRATEGY - Improve coordination and communication with the USDA Market News that collects information on the current supply, demand and prices on nearly on fruits, vegetables, ornamental and specialty crops.
1.09 Identify Alternate Crops
16) STRATEGY– Implement the search for alternate crops that can be produced in New Jersey and identify channels of distribution for those crops.
1.10 Value-Added Produce
17) 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 should be conducted to evaluate the implications of flash freezing products for the school, institutional and foodservice markets.
1.11 Vegetable Marketing Taskforce
18) STRATEGY – Utilize the efforts of the vegetable marketing taskforce to improve market access and distribution of New Jersey agricultural products. Work to expand the direct marketing of New Jersey produce, seek funding for the establishment of a Jersey Fresh year round farmers market and for value-added produce product development at Rutgers’ Center for Food Innovations. Generate alternative marketing strategies and product packaging to broaden market opportunities. Consider alternative packing options such as cooperatives or central packing facilities. Continue outreach efforts to improve communication and coordination between the Eastern Coast growing regions.