New Jersey Department of Agriculture representing its growers at CPMA
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture, which works to develop relationships with members from all sectors of the agricultural industry —from growers to processors to retailers — will be an exhibitor at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association Conference and Trade Show in Montreal as it does each time the show is held in Eastern Canada.
“Nearly 90 percent of fruit and vegetable exports from New Jersey are bound for store shelves in Eastern Canada, so it is imperative we maintain relationships that exist and extol the benefits of sourcing fruits and vegetables from the Garden State to others who are attending the show,” said Joe Atchison, NJDA’s assistant secretary of agriculture and marketing and development division director. “We hope to connect in-person with retailers and brokers from across the region.”
Visitors to the NJDA booth can expect to find friendly, knowledgeable ambassadors of the brand that represents more than 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as a helpful promotional item or two.
“New Jersey products are picked, packed and shipped — often in the same day — and many of our growers have trucks ready to make deliveries within 24 hours,” Atchison said. “When you source from New Jersey growers, you can count on them being there. Jersey Fresh delivers.”
Jersey Fresh continues to be the benchmark in statewide produce branding programs. Growers who enroll in the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program are eligible to use the brand on their packaging and capitalize on the successful marketing efforts that have been evolving since the program’s inception in 1984.
Members of the Jersey Fresh team have been attending the CPMA show for decades. On deck this year are Atchison, and coordinator of agricultural marketing, Christine Fries. The two are prepared to talk about the latest buzz with New Jersey growers and what’s expected in the year ahead.
“We are excited for the upcoming growing season, especially with the early offerings of herbs and greens and lettuces in dozens of varieties that we will have, as well as one of our early primary crops, asparagus, that is generally available at the end of April and beginning of May,” Atchison said. “In general, the weather has been cooperative for the winter and early spring, so we are on track to produce a high quality and good volume of product.”
In the months ahead, the NJDA will continue to promote the Jersey Fresh brand by using a multimedia marketing campaign, which includes digital billboards on some of the nation’s busiest roads, radio, social and online media, print advertisements, aerial banners flying above the famous Jersey Shore and sampling events at the busiest boardwalks along the shoreline.
“In addition, we will be attending several trade shows and conventions to promote the New Jersey harvest of over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables,” Atchison said.
Labor issues remain the top concern of growers in New Jersey as well as a growing concern with the cost of freight. Still, people are looking more and more towards Jersey Fresh produce and the experienced farmers in the area are seeing strong sales.
“We have a strong family farms going back generations, some as much as 10 or more,” he said. “Their genius allows New Jersey to be ranked as a Top Ten grower of several fruits and vegetables including peaches, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, blueberries, asparagus, cranberries, sweet corn, eggplant, squash, and cucumbers. We have a variety of soil types and microclimates that lend to producing an extraordinary diversity of crops.”