Herndon includes the Georgia Grown label on its packaged leafy greens, including kale and collards, sweet potatoes and Vidalia onions. The company features a description of the farm on the back of the package to educate shoppers on the grower and the product’s origin. Shoppers, particularly Millennials and those in their 30s, want to know their food is clean and where it originates. The Georgia Grown label also provides meaning to shoppers in other states, as they like to know the products aren’t some kind of “generic, global thing,” says Williams.“When consumers know it’s local, it means a lot to consumers and the people that are selling it to their customers,” he says.
Steve Mullis, owner and president of Farmer Johns, an Alma, GA-based grower of blueberries, which markets through the Watsonville, CA-based Dole Berry Co., lauds Kroger for its Georgia Grown commitment. The retailer merchandises Georgia products with lots of signage and other materials promoting the local produce. “They do a lot of in-state promotions for local grown,” he says. “They do impressive displays and are a big advocate of Georgia products. They support local grown products heavily.”
Consumers’ comfort with products drives local interest, says Duke Lane III, partner with Fort Valley, GA-based Genuine Georgia Group. “Consumers feel they have some intuitive knowledge of a product,” he says. “When their local peaches are not in season, we have seen a lot of retailers promote Georgia peaches, which are almost perceived as local in many areas.” Genuine Georgia, which also markets pecans, offers retailers customized marketing packages. Like children, no child is the same. Every retailer the organization works with uses its own formula. The shipper’s job is to listen to the retailer and determine what’s important to them, says Lane.