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Peirone's Taste Local program draws Congressional attention

By
Keith Loria

Peirone Produce Co. has built its success through its relationships with regional grocers and growers in the Pacific Northwest, and as such it is demonstrating its commitment to supporting those partners through its Taste Local program.

The program caught the attention of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington’s 5th Congressional District, who visited Peirone Produce Co. recently through a mutual connection, Bonnie Quinn of QUINN Advertising, which has developed marketing materials for Peirone Produce Co. and the Taste Local initiative.

“It was great,” Mike Kamphaus, president of Peirone Produce Co., said of the Congresswoman’s visit. “She is, and I want to avoid hyperbole, but she is as genuine as she seems. She spent 45 minutes with us, and I would say most of that conversation was centered on three areas. She has an agricultural background, I don’t know if people know that—she grew up on a farm—so part of the conversation was about Peirone’s efforts to highlight local farmers and how much she appreciated that and how much she thought that was worth in the community.”

McMorris Rodgers also engaged with employees and sought feedback and asked questions about issues Peirone is facing in terms of government regulation and COVID-19.

“It was about our company, it was about our people, and it was about the farmers who service us,” Kamphaus said.

Headquartered in Spokane, WA, Peirone Produce Co. created Taste Local in order to boost sales of locally grown products by providing grocers with large banners that share the message, “Know Your Growers,” as well as chalk boards that produce managers update with information about locally grown items that are available at the store.

Other promotional items that are part of Taste Local include online materials, videos in which growers share their stories, social media feeds, and images that can be featured in ads. It’s all designed to share the message that grocers are selling items that were grown right in their community.

“In many cases that was already happening, but I believe the independent grocer is better positioned than any retail segment in our state to really embrace and promote locally grown agriculture,” said Kamphaus.

He added that as a regional distributor of fresh produce that primarily serves independent grocers, Peirone Produce Co. is an ideal company to take up an initiative like Taste Local.

“It’s one of those things where we believe we’re the perfect size and we have the perfect customer base — the independent grocer, to really capitalize on local produce,” he said. “We’re a regional player, so for local growers, we’re a pretty good place to put your products. At the same time, we have the huge demand from consumers, and produce trends clearly show the huge interest on consumers’ parts to want to know about the local farmer and where their produce comes from.”

He described it as an encompassing program that lets consumers know who’s responsible for the potatoes, peppers, oranges, blueberries, and other items that are right in front of them as they shop.

“We kicked that off this spring and it’s been just tremendous,” Kamphaus said.

Taste Local is an ideal fit for Peirone Produce Co.’s philosophy of prioritizing the needs of independent grocers and growers, which leads to good things for everyone involved.

“There are lots of companies out there that buy on price and sell on price,” Kamphaus said. “We believe a big point of differentiation for Peirone is we don’t want to chase a volatile market every day. We want to differentiate ourselves by having better products, and the way we do that, we believe, is having better relationships with our growers, not just transactional relationships.”

Photo: Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (second from left) of Washington’s 5th Congressional District with Peirone Produce Co. staff members.

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