Finding Wisconsin-made products has never been easier, thanks to Something Special from Wisconsin™. Founded in 1983, the program is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to promote products with at least 50 percent of the ingredients, processing or production done in Wisconsin.
The program has just shy of 500 members – everything from fruit and vegetable growers to pet food companies – who all have permission to use the distinctive SSfW™ logo, allowing consumers to easily identify that the product is local. Companies are also profiled on the SSfW™ website with contact information.
“Increasingly, consumers of all types, be it households, distributors, restaurants or retailers, want to know the origin of the products they purchase,” says Lois Federman, director of the SSfW™ program. “The highly visible Something Special from Wisconsin™ brand provides a quick, visual verification that assures consumers they are purchasing a Wisconsin product and supporting Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.”
Federman says that members of the program pay an annual fee based on their gross sales, ranging from no fee for nonprofits up to $200 per year for companies with annual sales of $500,000 or more.
“Membership in SSfW™ is the best deal going for what you receive in return,” she says. “A company’s business profile on the program website alone is worth more than the top fee cost of $200.”
Statistics show that member businesses are likely to have a strong competitive edge over those without the SSfW™ logo, as more than 70 percent of Wisconsin consumers are more likely to purchase a product made or grown in the state.
For example, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, an SSfW™ member, values the program’s help in promoting its Wisconsin Healthy Grown® potatoes.
“The ‘buy local’ message is very important to the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, and we’re lucky to have SSfW™ as a partner in delivering this message,” says Dana Rady, director of promotions, communication and consumer education for the association.
Wisconsin Certified Honey is a Sweet Certification
Along with SSfW™, Wisconsin beekeepers have their own opportunity to market local honey to consumers through the Wisconsin Certified Honey label.
“The Wisconsin Certified Honey label is part of a regulation that was implemented in 2011,” says Peter Haase, director of the Bureau of Food and Recreational Business at the department. “This program is outside of the SSfW™ program. An actual administrative rule dictates requirements that must be met to use this label on honey.”
The label requires Wisconsin beekeepers to have apiaries in the state. The manufacturer of the honey must submit test results from an accredited lab once every two years, confirming the quality.
Sweet Mountain Farm in Washington, Wisconsin, is a Wisconsin Certified Honey farm. Owner Sue Dompke obtained the certification in 2015.
“As a consumer, unless one knows the beekeeper, the jar marked honey may not be the sweet substance the bees make,” she says. “Bees collect nectar from numerous plants and honey can vary from one region to the next. These differences have created an entirely new customer who wants to taste each location’s honey since everyone has a different mix of floral sources.”
Dompke says the Wisconsin certified label has helped her sell to corporate customers, who want to send local Wisconsin products across the country, as well as with those who are willing to pay more for high-quality, local honey.
Here are a Few of the Something Special from Wisconsin™ Products:
With a love for the local food movement, husband- and-wife team Austin and Hallie Ashley launched Wisco Pop! in 2012. The whimsical sodas are certified organic and include flavors such as grapefruit, ginger, cherry, strawberry, lemon and lime.
Trainor’s Maple Essence Farms
The Trainor family has been making maple syrup on their farm every year but one since the early 1950s. Trainor’s Maple Essence Farms started with 300 taps, and as of 2013, the company had about 9,000 taps. They now boil in a state-of-the-art facility on the home farm, producing high-quality maple syrup. FARM FACT: It takes about 43 gallons of sap from trees to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
Founded in 2011, Chip Magnet is a family-owned company committed to providing the best tasting, highest quality salsa, hot sauce, barbecue sauce and other condiments. The Eau Claire-based company verifies all of its products through the Non-GMO Project.
Several honey producers across Wisconsin are part of the Something Special from Wisconsin™ program. Members include Honey Grove Apiaries, Hank’s Honey Acres, Kickapoo Honey, Liberty Honey, Patz Maple & Honey Farms, Wisconsin River Honey, LLC, and many more. Visit somethingspecialwi.com for a listing of all member companies.
Click here to learn more about the Something Special from Wisconsin™ program.