LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets here is promoting locally grown fruits and vegetables through the new Redland Raised campaign developed by the Florida Department of Agriculture.
Miami-Dade County agricultural manager Charles Lapradd and the Florida Department of Agriculture created the Redland Raised program and its logo to promote produce grown in the Redlands region southwest of Miami near Homestead. Recently, they approached Publix about the campaign, Kim Jaeger, Publix's Miami division media and community relations manager, told SN.
“When they came to us wanting to promote the Redland-grown produce, we just jumped on board,” Jaeger said.
“It was really a no-brainer for us because we knew that we were already carrying the product. This was just a way for us to better educate our consumers and community about the benefits of buying local.”
The program includes special in-store signage developed exclusively for Publix, and the signs are in stores companywide. The program was kicked off at one of Publix's Miami stores on Oct. 29 — with Miami Mayor Carlos Alvarez and County Commissioner Katy Sorenson present — and will run through the end of the area's growing season in April. Jaeger said Publix plans to support the program next season as well.
“It's a program that, as of now, we just plan to continue supporting indefinitely,” Jaeger said.
“The feedback has been wonderful and customers have been really excited about this. Even when we talked to our customers before the promotion, they have always said, ‘We want to buy local, but we just don't know what is local.’ So, this is a way for us to identify what those fruits and vegetables are. Customers are happy to support their neighbors in their own backyard.”
How and where the Redland Raised produce is merchandised is left up to each store's produce manager, Jaeger explained. Many stores are supporting the brand through special merchandising displays throughout the store, either at the entrance or elsewhere. Other stores are choosing to merchandise the items in the produce department only.
Currently, items like Florida avocados, okra, yellow and zucchini squash and green beans are being grown in the Redlands region, and are being highlighted in stores participating in the program.
“Every grower from the Redland area and South Florida has the opportunity to participate in this; they work through the county government agricultural department,” Jaeger said, adding that this program is currently the primary initiative that Publix is working on involving locally grown produce.
“What's exciting about this program — and what we're kind of educating customers about — is that with locally grown produce, not only is there an opportunity to stimulate the local economy, but the fruits and vegetables are getting on our shelves within hours as opposed to days. So, it really is the freshest produce that you're going to find.”