Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice Inc., and sister retail operator Collins Bros. Corp., updates the numerous casual and white tablecloth restaurants and supermarkets it services throughout Georgia and parts of Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee about the availability of seasonal products through a weekly newsletter. Popular Georgia items include herbs, leafy greens, cabbage, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, Vidalia onions, sweet corn, green beans, peas, blueberries, blackberries, peaches and watermelon.
David Collins III, president of the Forest Park, GA-based Phoenix, says interest is high. “The Georgia Grown program is really growing,” he says. “We are really ramping it up. We are getting a tremendous amount of push toward it. Many restaurants and hotels are pushing and promoting local grown products. It’s being embraced by corporate America.” Collins says increased sales of Georgia produce help local economies and feed consumers’ renewed interest in sustainable agriculture.
The Atlanta-based Nickey Gregory Co., LLC markets Georgia produce via a special price list it sends to customers alerting them to product availability. Andrew Scott, director of marketing and business development, recommends retailers place cut samples near displays for taste testing. They should also cut product in half, particularly melons, so shoppers can view the fruits’ interior. “Georgia retailers do a very good job of promoting Georgia Grown during the spring and fall,” says Scott. “A couple of retailers have posters of the farmers next to their products in the grocery stores. That provides a nice personal side to farming.”
Restaurant usage is increasing, says Generation Farms’ Dees. Restaurants are using more Georgia Grown produce seasonally, including fresh fruit in salads, hearty vegetables in soups, sautéed onions and proteins, which creates an experience for customers where they are more cognizant of the fresh flavors and attention to detail, she says.