NJDA’s Beaver reviews Jersey Fresh marketing efforts
SOUTH BRUNSWICK — Thirty-five years later, the Jersey Fresh branding program still has value to the state’s producers, one of its advocates says, and though some aspects have a changed or been added, other parts have not been touched.
“We try to understand your needs and support you in whatever ways we can with the limitations we’re faced with, financial and personnel-wise,” Thomas Beaver, the director of the division of Marketing and Development for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, said the New Jersey Farmers Direct Marketing Association here on March 26 at the Middlesex County Earth Center.
Beaver noted the NJDA rolled out a new website last year, FindJerseyFresh.com, and said the website is not just about helping consumers find a farm nearby.
“It’s also an avenue for you people, another place to get yourself out there, you can be listed and get a full listing things you grow, services you offer, whether you accept vouchers,” he noted, “and all of our recipe videos, photos, contests and other things we’re doing, seasonality charts and all of that — can be found on FindJerseyFresh.com.”
Beaver noted that fundamentally the biggest challenge NJDA faces is trying to be everything to everybody, and noted “we’re just as interested in supporting the Shop-Rite’s and Wegmans’ of the world as we are in supporting direct marketers like yourselves: how do we structure what we’re doing in a way that has the greatest benefit to the greatest number of farmers?”
Beaver noted with some pride that the Jersey Fresh campaign, launched under former Secretary Arthur Brown and assistant Al Murray, is now in its 35th year and the oldest state branding program for agriculture in the country, as the looks and color of the logo created back then remain the same.
The Jersey Fresh logo, he said, “remains very viable, people look for it in the store, in a sea of confusion about what local means, if they see it, they can be sure that it is definitively a local product grown here in the Garden State.
“We were very fortunate in last year’s budget that the legislature put forward an additional $100,000 so the Governor’s proposed budget for this year includes that appropriation, a nice change of pace to put it mildly,” he added.
Beaver noted with outdoor billboard advertising, “one thing we know for sure is we have roughly nine million people who are traveling to and from work and they’re all seeing these same digital billboards, it puts that little seed in the back of their minds.” This year, consumers will see different digital billboards to promote the seasonality of various fruits and vegetables.
Separate displays will promote crops in season, including blueberries, peaches, peppers, squash and eggplant among other types of produce, he said.
The idea, he added, “is to remind them of the diversity and the more than 100 fresh fruits and vegetables we grow here in this state, to keep hitting them with that so that they’re thinking about what’s in season.
“We think it’s a high impact strategy to be advertising on digital billboards and the retailers like it because it’s helping to drive people to their stores,”
Beaver said, adding the NJDA will also be tapping into a number of commercial and digital radio outlets this year. Once again, he said a Jersey Fresh aerial banner will be flown up and down the state’s shoreline for much of the month of August, alerting thousands of beach goers to the benefits of Jersey Fresh produce.
“We also have some unique contest ideas that we’re still working through that I can’t divulge yet,” he added.
Beaver urged farmers who were not in the Jersey Fresh Program to join and receive posters, magnets and produce display cards with the Jersey Fresh logo prominently displayed.
“It’s my belief that the Jersey Fresh brand has value for everybody,” Beaver said, “so if you’re not a member of the program, it’s $30 to join, and it’s been that price since 1984. We are not fans of inflation.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925