Officials from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) share their intentions for the Fresh From Florida campaign on the eve of The London Produce Show and Conference
Say the name Florida and citrus instantly comes to mind. London Produce Show attendees will have an opportunity to taste the Sunshine State’s famous fruits in juice form. This year, the Tallahassee-based FDACS has reserved two booths: one will be for the Fort Pierce, Florida-based Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company, in order to show and sample its juices, and the other will be for the department itself to showcase its Fresh From Florida programme. After all, it’s not just citrus that grows in Florida. The state is a key counter-seasonal supply source for over 300 fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We at the FDACS were very pleased with our participation at last year’s London Produce Show and Conference, where we learned that there is much interest in fresh fruits and vegetables from Florida. Many people from Europe, and especially the UK, vacation in Florida and get a taste of the freshness we have to offer. We offered Natalie’s Orchid Island an opportunity to participate with us and to allow attendees a chance to sample a little ‘Fresh From Florida’ sunshine and to also be able to learn more about the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that Florida produces,” explains Debra May, the trade development administrator in the FDACS’ division of marketing and development.
Product samples are 100% pure Florida Valencia orange juice and Florida Grapefruit juice that are non-from-concentrate, have no added preservatives or flavour packs. The juice is squeezed and bottled within 24 hours of the fruit being picked. Natalie’s Orchard Islands’ juices have won 10 national taste tests as ‘Best Tasting Juice in the U.S.’
“We are very interested especially in the UK, where these juice products have not yet been introduced,” says Chris Hodge, who will man the company’s booth with fellow international sales manager, Juan Galotti. “Small quantities can be supplied from our cold storage facility in Le Havre, France, and full container loads directly from Florida. Currently, we export to mainland Europe, particularly France, Belgium and Germany; Asia, including Japan, Korea, and the Maldive Islands; the Middle East; Caribbean Islands and Central America.”
One distinct advantage of buying from Florida is the state’s November-through-May season, a time when much of the world is experiencing cold and snowy weather. To educate attendees on this point, Kim Coker and Michael Durden, the FDACS’ trade development supervisor and marketing representative, respectively, will offer recipe cards, seasonal availability charts, representative contacts and website information at the ‘Fresh From Florida’ booth.
“We want show attendees to know the FDACS is here to assist with international trade. As representatives, we can match-make Florida producers with international buyers. This can save companies a lot of time by vetting the producers who are ready to export, have product available and can send samples when the season begins,” says May.
In addition, the FDACS has incentive monies to assist with advertising, in-store demonstrations, point-of-sale materials, social media and other types of promotion. The department also has a Culinary Ambassador on staff, Chef Justin Timineri, who often participates at events to promote Florida products. For example, Timineri has cooked at functions for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, events at the US Ambassador’s residence in London and at a grocery chain in the UK.
“Our goal is to have the ‘Fresh From Florida’ brand recognised and requested in UK, European, African and Middle Eastern markets,” says May. “Florida marketers continue to research and re-examine these markets and explore new partner relationships while strengthening current partnerships. Florida grapefruit and citrus juices have always held a strong position as well as ‘Fresh From Florida’ super sweetcorn. We know too that Florida-grown watercress, blueberries and arugula [rocket] are now being shipped to Europe.”
FDACS marketing representatives meet with a number of distributors and supermarkets prior to each season in hopes of creating new partnerships. According to May, “We also have a strong relationship with the Southern United States Trade Association and recruit Florida companies to attend trade shows and participate in trade missions throughout the year in order to develop relationships that will increase sales of ‘Fresh From Florida’ produce.”
On a related note, in February Dutch operator, Streamlines N.V. introduced its new Blue Stream service, which employs five ships in weekly rotation to offer dedicated and direct vessel service between Port Canaveral, Florida, and Europe (Rotterdam; Tilbury, UK; and Radicatel, France), the Caribbean and Central America. Streamlines is a division of theSeatrade Group NV, a 65-plus-year old company, which is the world’s largest operator of refrigerated vessels. Much of the refrigerated produce items on these ships originates in the Sunshine State.
Fresh from Florida is at The London Produce Show and Conference held at Grosvenor House hotel, June 8-10. Register here.