How is the NCDA&CS promoting local growers and farmers in grocery stores? – R.T.
The NCDA&CS has extensive programs in place to move product on behalf of our producers. We have strong, established relations with all of the retailers in state, including Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Wal-mart, Ingles, Lowes, etc. We place products through these outlets individually, as well as with established promotions that run throughout the growing season. Millions of dollars of produce and value-added items are sold as a result.
We also host a grower show exclusively for the retail and food service buyers North Carolina in both Charlotte and Raleigh. Producers and companies meet with more than 600 buyers at these shows. We also host shows throughout the southeast such as in Bentonville, Arkansas for Sam’s Club and Wal-mart. Many of the producers that attend have their products placed in these stores and would never get the opportunity without this show. This includes small producers that can only supply a few stores.
We have programs in place to move product into the military at each base in North Carolina. We also have a school lunch program that markets fresh product from our farmers into the schools utilizing our food distribution division.
We also focus attention on food service suppliers and individual restaurants. We coordinate with these folks to buy NC and run sales staff incentive contests with the suppliers to move more NC product. We also have programs in place to assist direct marketing efforts such as roadside stands, Community-Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), pick your own, etc. We have a Web site to drive consumers to direct marketing opportunities in their areas: www.ncfarmfresh.com.
— Joe Sanderson, assistant director of marketing