“You can’t imagine how exciting it is for a little business like us to have an opportunity to meet a company like this, let alone sit down in their office and talk to them about what they need,” says Kathy Senft, who owns One Screw Loose in Barnesville with her husband and two sons.
One Screw Loose produces jellies as condiment for meats, cheeses and vegetables. Their popular flavors of beers, sweet teas and balsamic vinegars tantalize taste buds, yet the family credits membership in the Georgia Grown program for more than doubling their sales.
“It’s not just the partnership with Kroger through Georgia Grown,” Senft says. “It’s also the partnerships with other small Georgia companies that have helped us grow.”
Craft beer stores and specialty food shops also carry their products. And they now source beer and other ingredients from Georgia Grown members.
This business’ overwhelmingly positive response proves common among Georgia Grown’s more than 400 members, says Matthew Kulinski, deputy director of marketing for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
“I think that the Georgia Grown program has exceeded all of our expectations especially because it’s been able to benefit small businesses in Georgia and create new jobs,” he says.
Georgia Grown Prospers
Georgia Grown serves as a marketing and economic development program that GDA relaunched in early 2012. The program helps new and established agribusinesses grow and thrive as it brands and promotes products grown or made in Georgia. It also brings together producers, processors, distributors, retailers and ultimately consumers.
Georgia Grown products now sell at more than 300 retail locations statewide, including widespread partnerships with Kroger and Harveys Supermarkets, Kulinski says. Georgia Grown products even sell at the world’s busiest airport. The 94 million passengers who pass through the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport each year may find a Georgia Grown item to eat or take home as a unique gift.
“Our main goal is to have these retailers source locally grown products and identify those in their stores as being Georgia Grown,” Kulinski says. “We are helping connect the dots between the buyer and the Georgia products.”
Partnerships Propel Sales
Georgia Grown jump-started John Sell’s business in 2013. The owner of Beaver Lake Grilling Planks uses Georgia trees within a four-county area of his farm in Milner. The wood planks provide a favorable cooking medium for all types of meat, such as ribeye steaks, pork ribs, salmon and whole chickens, as well as vegetables. All the while, the Georgia hardwood varieties, such as pecan, cherry, red oak and hickory, add flavor to the meat. The cooking method also maintains the food’s juices, Sell says. “
With Georgia Grown, I get my product out to a lot more people in Georgia much faster than I would have been able to do by myself,” he says.
In fact, just a few months into sales, he sold hundreds of grilling planks from the Georgia Grown Building at the Georgia National Fair. He now sells products in various retail locations from small to large, including Kroger.
“The Georgia Grown publicity is by far outweighing any other way we can do publicity,” Sell says. “We’re also getting a chance to meet a lot of other Georgia Grown producers, and some of them are going to be handling our product. We wouldn’t be where we are today without Georgia Grown, and we will go a lot of further with Georgia Grown.”