While fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of the Arkansas Agriculture Department’s Arkansas Grown program, food processors and value-added producers throughout the state also deserve significant recognition.
These value-added producers and processors range from large corporations to family-run businesses. They include well-known brands like Little Debbie®, processed by McKee Foods, to homemade delicacies like McClard’s BBQ sauce, Honeysuckle Lane Cheese, Diamond Bear Brewing Co., and Fischer Honey.
The Arkansas Grown program is open to any Arkansas agricultural product, defined as consisting entirely of or made substantially from farm, forest and nursery products produced in Arkansas. Currently, the majority of the members produce fresh fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, however the program does include some processors like natural soap producers and wineries.
Zachary Taylor, director of marketing at the Arkansas Agriculture Department says they are looking to push for more value-added producers to become members of the program in 2013. “We want to make processors more aware of the branding program and its benefits not only to them, but also to Arkansas agriculture,” Taylor adds.
The program is essential in branding and marketing strategies for the companies, helping consumers know that these processed foods were made in state. With the popular local food movement, most consumers are more likely to buy a product when it has been grown or processed locally.