Looking for something healthy and tasty to snack on? You might want to pop a Florida peach into your mouth. According to a recent University of Florida research survey, consumers say peaches from the Sunshine State make for a savory snack – a result that’s encouraging for Florida growers trying to expand their reach, not only in within the state, but nationally.
Joy Rumble, a UF/IFAS Assistant Professor of agricultural education and communication who conducted the survey, said she was surprised to see that one of the most common ways people reported eating peaches was as a snack. “I thought that people would be consuming them as part of a meal such as lunch or in a dish such as cobbler or as a topping, like on yogurt,” she stated. “This finding is encouraging for the Florida peach industry because the Florida peach tends to be smaller than those produced elsewhere. There is an opportunity to position and market the Florida peach as the perfect snack.”
According to Rumble, she conducted a national survey of consumers to see if they’re buying peaches and if so, who’s buying them. The survey reveals most consumers nationwide don’t know the dates of Florida’s peach season (March through May). The survey also showed that consumers really value a peach with the label “Grown in the USA” on it. As the first domestically available peach of the year, the Florida peach has an opportunity to market and promote the “Grown in the USA” label as well as the “Fresh From Florida” label, Rumble said.
The survey is part of a specialty crop block grant focused on increasing the awareness and marketability of Florida peaches. This grant included a consumer survey and producer/marketer interviews done to inform a marketing plan to increase awareness and preference for Florida peaches.
Despite increased acreage now estimated to be roughly 1,400 acres, Florida peaches have yet to gain significant popularity among Florida consumers. Successful expansion of the Florida peach industry requires increased consumer and retailer awareness of the industry as well as an understanding of these audiences’ preferences for, and barriers to, buying Florida peaches, Rumble said.