OLYMPIA, Wash. (FNS) - A homegrown agricultural promotion here has been completely revamped with more promotional materials available to retailers and visible support from the governor.
As a result, several hundred retailers are promoting state-produced products across all departments, using simplified point-of-purchase materials and a more flexible program with deeper reach than previous efforts.
Rolled out two years ago, the program - "From the Heart of Washington, Our Farms to Your Table" - encompasses fresh produce, dairy, fresh meat, seafood, frozen food and wine. Gov. Chris Gregoire serves as the spokeswoman, appearing in TV advertisements to encourage residents to select locally grown and produced products when they shop. These advertisements, along with radio spots and a redesigned website, were launched early this month.
Two years ago, the program, spearheaded by a previous governor, simply urged support of local farmers via banners designed for in-store usage. Retailers had the option of customizing materials, but it turned out to be costly.
Developed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the remodeled program involves a simplified single color logo and a bevy of shelf tags including those designed for dry grocery, dairy and frozen food aisles and the backup of broadcast advertising.
For the produce departments, special sign packages include stake signs expressly designed for large displays. Retailers agree that the improved produce department signs will make a good first impression on customers, followed by supplemental signs in the grocery aisles.
"This year's approach is much bigger," says Laurie Lombard, director of marketing for PCC Natural Markets, Seattle. "The varied marketing should make an impact on consumers. The simplified program will surely bring home to consumers what the message means.
hard in June and July, consumers will be really aware of locally produced items come the fall when our season is at its height."
Involving the state's agricultural commissions in the program is another major change. From shellfish and beef to dairy, the commissions are working with area retailers to get the message out.
"The strategy is still evolving, but the current governor has made this a high priority for the department of agriculture, and with the new team in place, we at the Washington Food Industry have re-engaged in the program," said Clif Finch, vice president of the retail trade group. "The current campaign was the result of an unexpected TV promotional opportunity that came a little late for the standard planning sequence in the grocery industry, and yet an unprecedented number of grocery stores, both independents and chains, agreed to participate."
More than 450 supermarket units this month will begin sporting point-of-sale materials emblazoned with the "From the Heart of Washington, Our Farms to Your Table" logo, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The signs and shelf talkers will be posted in fresh food departments in addition to other areas where Washington-grown items are merchandised.
"More than ever today, grocery companies are attempting to distinguish themselves from the competition, and so many question the value of general 'Heart of Washington' programs," Finch said. "We look at it from a broader perspective, much like the organic food phenomenon. If we can educate state consumers regarding the value and variety of state agricultural products, and generate the demand, it can be a win-win for everyone from our farms to our retailers."