To spread the word about their delicious, locally grown and produced products, Tennessee farms and companies have a friend in Pick Tennessee Products.
The nonprofit service, which is part of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), is dedicated to educating and connecting consumers to Tennessee farms, artisans, farmers markets, and more that come from the food and farming industry.
Each year, the organization holds the Pick Tennessee Trade Show, where producers can set up booths and present their products. Since 2012, Pick Tennessee has held its annual trade show in conjunction with the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association (TGCSA) to promote local products, try to get as many as possible into regional grocery stores and give member businesses access to the state’s largest buyers of processed products.
The partnership has worked well for both Pick Tennessee and TGCSA.
“It has been a great success. With the trend in food retail toward local sourcing, our members are constantly trying to get locally grown and made products to put on their shelves,” says Rob Ikard, president and CEO of TGCSA. “It was a very smart move to partner with Pick Tennessee Products because we felt like it was really important to bring those local products and vendors to the TGCSA annual convention and expo and showcase them to grocers and convenience stores.”
Edgefield Prime Meat Company was founded in the summer of 2017 and processes cattle from its sister company, Edgefield Farms, at a facility in Dunlap. The company also sells grass-fed and grain-finished beef, lamb and pork at the facility, and offers USDA- inspected processing and custom processing for other farmers and individuals.
They decided to attend the Pick Tennessee Trade Show for the first time in 2018.
“Since the beginning of our company, the support and help from TDA has been phenomenal,” says Rebecca Lee Riddle of Edgefield Prime. “Our contacts with the department mentioned the conference and we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to network with other businesses that could benefit from our services or we could benefit from theirs.”
She says that attending the conference allowed Edgefield Prime to see a broader picture of the many facets of Tennessee’s agriculture industry.
“Contacts that we made at the conference have led to marketing our products in different markets than we had in the past,” she says. “We now have another separate avenue for marketing.”
She says that to help farms and businesses promote their products, events like the Pick Tennessee Trade Show are essential for getting local products into the spotlight.
“The (Pick Tennessee Trade Show) provides a mechanism for attendees to connect and conduct business,” Riddle says. “We believe it is a boost to the local economy, a benefit to the health of neighbors and good for the environment to buy local.”