Published on 06/24/02

Shoppers: produce better grown in Georgia

The Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, a unit of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, studied whether shoppers were aware of the 2001 “Grown in Georgia” marketing campaign. They asked how the shoppers perceived the campaign and how it affected shopping decisions.

The 2001 campaign was developed using $100,000 by the Georgia Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and Kroger.

Special cardboard displays featuring brochures about Georgia produce, including recipes, were displayed in more than 140 Kroger stores in Georgia. Kroger supplied sales data to evaluate the impact of the campaign.

“The 2001 change in sales indicated that the program was effective at moving additional products,” said Kent Wolf, market analyst with the center.

Of the shoppers surveyed, 94 percent said they’d buy fresh, Georgia-grown produce over competing produce, given equal quality and similar prices.

“The study found that the Georgia-grown marketing campaign has the potential to significantly impact Georgia’s produce through increased sales of Georgia-grown produce,” Wolfe said.

Shoppers want to know where the produce was grown, Wolfe said. Nearly all of them believed labels should identify fresh produce grown in the state, he said.

Due to these findings, many Georgia farmers are now putting the “Georgia Grown” logo on their produce packages and signs.

“To effectively market produce grown in Georgia, it’s important to create promotional material that’s likely to impact shoppers’ purchase decisions,” Wolfe said.

Most shoppers said Georgia produce is fresher and tastes better than produce grown elsewhere. They believe it should have a longer shelf life, too, because it hasn’t been stored as long.

The 2002 campaign hopes to capitalize on this perception. The phrase “Farm Fresh” has been used this year in advertising.

The campaign budget has increased to $2 million. This will include mass media advertisements, like TV commercials and metro- Atlanta billboards. The campaign has been extended, too, to include Wal-Mart.

This type of campaign supports Georgia’s overall economy, Wolfe said. It helps Georgia farmers better market their products close to home.

“As the program grows, consumers’ preferences for Georgia produce will provide producers here with a marketing advantage over non-Georgia produce,” he said.

Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.