WPVGA Taps into Demand for Locally Grown

Published online: Aug 09, 2014 David Mitchell, The Packer
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Retailers eager to promote Wisconsin potatoes will have some help from the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association this season.

“There are an increasing number of people who are interested in knowing where their food comes from,” said Dana Rady, director of promotions, communication and consumer education for WPVGA. “It’s important for them to consider that. You can’t go wrong when you buy local. It benefits the local economy.”

Rady said the WPVGA will spread its “buy local” message on a pair of bin designs as well as Kwik Lok tags that identify spuds specifically as Wisconsin potatoes.

The association’s members will have the option of shipping their potatoes to Midwest retailers in a full-size bin labeled Growing Wisconsin Together. The bin’s messaging also thanks shoppers for buying local products.

The association also is offering a half-size bin, which can be assembled and filled at the store level, which also will carry a “buy local” message, said Rady, who added that the smaller bin could be used as an end-cap display.

President & CEO Larry Alsum said Alsum Farms & Produce Inc. in Friesland, Wis., definitely plans to take advantage of the new bins.

“We’ve promoted locally grown a lot ourselves,” he said, “This is one more tool we can use. Overall, we see the demand for local product as a very positive opportunity for the Wisconsin growers. Most of our market area is in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes states area.”

Alsum said his company works with many local growers to grow, pack and distribute potatoes, onions, cabbage, sweet corn, squash, pumpkins and other locally grown crops.

“Our customer response is excellent, and we work to connect the consumer to the grower whenever we can,” he said.

Packaging isn’t the only way to let shoppers know where product came from. Okray Family Farms Inc. in Plover, Wis., worked with Roundy’s to develop in-store radio advertisements for the Milwaukee-based retail chain.

“The locally grown story continues to gain speed,” said president Dick Okray. “It resonates with people who wish to support local growers and the economy it creates, and it lowers the carbon footprint.”

Mike Carter, CEO of Bushmans’ Inc. of Rosholt, Wis., said reducing food miles and fuel costs is good for consumers and business.

“Locally grown continues to be a positive trend for the potato industry in Wisconsin,” he said.

In addition to the locally grown bins, Rady said the WPVGA also will be offering a full-size bin for retailers outside the Midwest. That bin tells shoppers that “potatoes have appeal” and is printed with nutritional information.

“It’s a more generic message,” she said, “but it still encourages the purchase of potatoes.”


Source: The Packer