Agriculture is one of the strongest pillars of Florida‘s economy, generating more than $120 million in annual economic impact and supporting more than 2 million jobs. Florida’s agriculture industry continues to evolve with fresh market vegetables, fruits, and livestock industries increasing their contributions to the state’s overall agricultural cash value.
Among Florida’s various commodities are the fresh blueberries grown exclusively in Florida from March through May. Recently, consumer reports have shown a high demand for our blueberries, but in order for Florida growers to receive the benefits of the unique marketing window, consumers must first specifically demand Florida blueberries when they make purchases during the season.
As part of a Specialty Crop Block Grant funded by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (PIE) in Agriculture and Natural Resources conducted an online consumer survey in 31 states to determine the demand and familiarity of Florida blueberries.
Consumers reported they would prefer to buy blueberries from Florida more than they would prefer to buy from any other of the top 10 blueberry-producing states, including Georgia and California. When consumers were asked to identify the Florida blueberry season, only 16% believed they could do so correctly. Of this 16%, most did not know to begin looking for Florida blueberries in March. Half of that very small group knew Florida blueberries are available in March and April.
While 86% of the surveyed consumers were unsure of the season overall, these consumers were also unsure if they had ever seen Florida blueberries in stores, and many people reported not looking for Florida blueberries at all when making purchasing decisions. Adding a “Fresh From Florida” logo to your packaging material could be beneficial in distinguishing Florida berries from berries grown in other states and countries.
In 1990, the Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign was created to increase consumer awareness and expand the market for Florida’s agricultural products, including blueberries. Today, the campaign, known as “Fresh From Florida,” has grown into a worldwide brand through domestic and international retail partnerships, developing close relationships with agriculture and seafood producers, and with the successful implementation of consumer advertising campaigns.
There are numerous benefits to joining “Fresh From Florida,” including discounted industry trade show participation; co-op advertising and promotion opportunities; trade leads and exporting assistance; subscription to the “Fresh From Florida” magazine and e-newsletter; and even a customized “Fresh From Florida” business sign. Members get to use the widely recognized “Fresh From Florida” logo on products, packaging, advertising, point-of-purchase material, signage, electronic media and other promotional materials.
We would love to have you as a member of the “Fresh From Florida” program! Should you wish to join, please give us a call at 850-617-7399, or visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com/join.