Although a lot has changed in the past 25 years one thing has remained constant – Virginia’s Finest® still stands for top quality. Beginning in 1989, the state’s trademark program began a strong marketing tradition to gather the best and finest in the state, and has been successfully promoting these products to consumers wanting top-notch Virginia products ever since.
Virginia’s Finest® includes top-quality Virginia-produced and -processed products including snacks, nuts, cider, meats and produce. Consumers recognize the familiar “checkmark” on products as a seal of excellence.
Member Blue Crab Bay forged ahead with the concept, even in its early days. “In 1986 after I attended an international food fair in California, a few of us thought, ‘Why can’t we do this in Virginia?’” says Pam Barefoot, founder and president of Blue Crab Bay. “We came home and founded a small specialty trade organization.”
Begun as a kitchen table startup, Blue Crab Bay today offers dozens of local specialty products and believes strongly in the Virginia’s Finest® Trademark Program. “It gives us all a sense of pride and the feeling that someone is looking out for us. It also stands for fine government that helps support local products and companies,” Barefoot says.
Blue Crab Bay specialty food products can be found in gift shops, specialty stores, online retailers and even in the movies. “Our product was on the shelf in the movie Sleeping With the Enemy with Julia Roberts. We’re also in 20 stores across the nation.”
Trade buyers and customers alike understand the value in the blue checkmark and red “A”. Only Virginia products that meet quality standards are part of the elite program.
All Virginia’s Finest® products must be approved by a review committee, which is comprised of Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services staff members from several divisions, including Marketing, Food Safety and Weights and Measures.
According to the Specialty Food Association (SFA), total sales of specialty foods in 2012 were $85.87 billion. One of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., the specialty food industry continues to enjoy spectacular growth, outpacing most sectors within the U.S. economy.
Learn more about Virginia’s Finest® and the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo by visiting www.vafinest.com.