RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sales of regional items like barbecue sauces are smokin' at various Winn-Dixie stores, as a result of a partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
Sales of the featured products have "steadily increased" since four-foot endcaps -- signed "Goodness Grows in North Carolina" -- were incorporated into many of the grocer's units in late summer, according to Jeff Camden, retail marketing specialist at the NCDA&CS.
"This gives us a great opportunity to help introduce new products to retailers that normally the customers wouldn't have a shot at getting," Camden told SN. "This really brings the regional items out to the stores."
The "Goodness Grows" program today includes various retailers operating more than 60 stores and nearly 1,600 growers and producers of products indigenous to North Carolina. About 40 stockkeeping units garnish the Winn-Dixie endcaps, and feature items from Adam's Rib Rub (a dry barbecue rub that liquifies when cooked) to Toad Sweat (a hot sauce for ice cream in flavors like chocolate and key lime).
While she would not quote specific sales figures, Kathy Lussier, spokeswoman for Winn-Dixie, confirmed the section's popularity with consumers.
"People enjoy supporting their own state and their own local economy and the local producers. We know that it's something that builds goodwill with our customers, and it's certainly something that we're proud to do to support what the agriculture department is trying to do in North Carolina," Lussier said. The displays are in the retailer's metro Raleigh stores.
The NCDA&CS produces all of the point-of-purchase signage for the section, which includes shelf-talkers, channel strips and floor graphics. All of the products are distributed by Alan Bundy, owner of B&B Pecan Processors, a company that is also behind some of the featured items, including Yam Good Sauce, a spice blend that can be used for dipping, finishing, or as a base.
The "Goodness Grows" sections can also be found in all Kroger stores in North Carolina, where the program began as a test pilot a few years ago. While nothing has been finalized, Camden said the NCDA&CS has spoken with representatives from Bi-Lo and BJ's Wholesale Club about expanding the program.