HARRISBURG, Pa. - Carlisle-based Giant Food Stores has been recognized for aggressively promoting locally grown products including fresh produce, meat and dairy products. The retailer was named Pennsylvania's first retailer of the year through the state's "PA Preferred" program here.
"We're very excited about this award because it shows that Giant Food Stores has stepped up to the plate in support of our local economies," Tracy Pawelski, Giant's director of public relations, told SN.
"We work with over 28 PA Preferred companies that supply us with a bounty of fresh produce, cheeses and meats along with shelf-stable offerings like barbecue sauce, pickles and honey," she added.
State Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff presented the award to Jeff Martin, senior vice president of Giant, during the annual Farm Show dinner celebration.
"As one of the largest food retailers in the state, we embrace our responsibility to support the local economy and offer our customers the widest selection of locally grown products possible," said Martin in a statement from Gov. Edward G. Rendell's office.
"The PA Preferred program strengthens the connection between the agricultural and retail industries so that every Pennsylvanian, from the grower to the customer, wins," he said.
According to the governor's statement, Giant plays a significant role in bringing new opportunities to hundreds of small companies and helps promote the quality products found across the state that carry the PA Preferred brand.
"PA Preferred encourages Pennsylvanians to buy Pennsylvania produce that is not only delicious, but has been grown and harvested under some of the world's toughest safety standards," Rendell said in the statement.
To promote the program, Giant exhibits banners mainly within store produce departments. Brochures highlighting the state program are available in stores as well. All PA Preferred products carry the program's blue-and-gold logo.
To carry the brand, at least 60% of the raw product must be grown and harvested in the commonwealth. The PA Preferred branding program was launched in January 2004 to help market food products and goods manufactured and processed in the state.
Shoppers could see the selection of homegrown products grow. Category managers at Giant will meet with local vendors at the second annual Giant PA Preferred Food Show scheduled for next month in the Carlisle area, Pawelski said. The show gives the retailer a chance to meet new vendors who are interested in doing business with Giant.