Visiting a Florida farm gives consumers access to fresh fruits, vegetables and more – but what some may not realize is that a trip to a grocery store provides that same access.
The “Fresh From Florida” program works with retailers throughout Florida and across the country to offer the freshest Florida fruits, vegetables and other products to grocery shoppers.
“There’s just about every crop known to man grown somewhere in the state of Florida,” says farmer Benny McLean of Lake County. “ ‘Fresh From Florida’ means it was harvested yesterday and it is in the grocery store tonight. You can’t get it any fresher.”
The “Fresh From Florida” campaign is associated with more than 60 retail chains domestically and internationally. Retailers are offered incentives to purchase Florida agricultural items and to use the “Fresh From Florida” logo in store circulars and demonstrations, advertising pieces and point-of-sale materials. “Fresh From Florida” has a brand presence in 10,000 domestic stores, 35 domestic chains, 4,400 international stores and 31 international chains.
“As a farmer, it makes me really proud to walk into a grocery store and see that ‘Fresh From Florida’ products are being sold there,” says producer Olivia Wong of Miami. “I want that same joy to be passed on to a mom that’s going shopping or a dad or anybody that’s going into a grocery store. I want them to walk in and smile because they see products that have been grown in Florida.”
Randall Dasher is a third-generation farmer from Suwannee County. His farm grows crops ranging from tomatoes to corn to lettuces and chives – all grown in row crops or within the farm’s innovative greenhouse system. Being a member of the “Fresh From Florida” program is important to Dasher.
“We knew how to grow the products, but we didn’t know how to market the products to get it to the consumer,” he says. “That’s where ‘Fresh From Florida’ came in.”
Wong’s father Manny founded Fullei Fresh in Miami. They raise 18 types of tiny plant sprouts plus wheat grass, selling these products to distributors, wholesalers and retail chains throughout South and Central Florida. Retail customers carrying Fullei Fresh products include Whole Foods, Milam’s Markets and The Fresh Market.
“ ‘Fresh From Florida’ has helped us out a lot,” says Wong. “We’ve been able to expand and be recognized in grocery stores throughout the state.”
McLean is a citrus grower and says it’s important that his products are healthy and that consumers have an opportunity to learn about the foods they choose.
“The most important thing is for consumers to have the opportunity to make healthy choices, no matter the crop,” McLean says. “To me, that boils down to ‘why are you a farmer?’ I see the opportunity for ‘Fresh From Florida’ to be the same as me as a grandad teaching my grandkids about the importance of what you are eating and what you’re consuming.”
In the end, Dasher says, building trust between farmers and consumers is vital.
“You can trust that the farmers who participate in ‘Fresh From Florida’ are farmers that are concerned about their products reaching the consumer in a high-quality manner and they can be assured it’s safe to feed their family,” he says.
The “Fresh From Florida” membership program puts the marketing expertise of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to work for agriculture and seafood businesses. Membership in the program gives the Florida agriculture community the opportunity to come together under the “Fresh From Florida” umbrella, putting the strength of Florida’s worldwide brand to work for each individual member. Members may use the widely recognized “Fresh From Florida” logo on products, advertising and packaging. Members may also receive point-of-purchase materials, customized business signage and discounts for industry trade show participation.