Florida Strawberry Growers Look To Stand Out

Strawberry Field Day

In February, the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center hosted its annual strawberry field day, which drew a crowd of around 200 people. In addition to field trials showing the latest research in new varieties, insect and disease management, and freeze protection, a grower panel on marketing was featured. Participating were Gary Wishnatzki, Wish Farms; David Spivey, Spivey Farms; and Mark Greeff, Driscoll’s.

Not surprisingly, one universal among the growers on the panel was that quality and food safety has to be mission one. Moderator Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, discussed with the growers how they strive to make their product stand out in a competitive marketplace.

Real Red And Local

Spivey represented the small grower perspective on the panel. He, his father, and brother run a 45-acre operation in Plant City. “My dad built the farm as a local farm, and locally, people want red strawberries — real red,” said Spivey. “They don’t want something that has shoulders, so we carry that over into packing and that is what we are going to pack. Yes, we are aware of the issues that come with packing really red strawberries. We had a lot of trial and error for a few years, with lot more error in the first couple years.

“People at first see them and say, ‘Oh that is overripe.’ So I have to be real selective on my market. I don’t have any chains bigger than 10 stores, but I would say 99% of the year we are sold out. We’ve built up customers a pallet here and a pallet there and they understand our strawberries are blood red.”

Campbell noted that Spivey has done a good job of connecting its brand to Florida’s strawberry identity. On Spivey Farms’ packaging, the official mascot of Florida strawberries “Jammer” is featured, along with the Fresh From Florida logo.

Wishnatzki said his company had recently re-branded its product line. In doing so, he conducted considerable consumer surveys to help with better positioning. In the survey, hardly any consumers could name a brand unaided, other than Plant City, which is not a brand. “We took that survey finding as significant, so when we redesigned our packaging, we made Plant City more prominent on the label,” says Wishnatzki. “We are trying to identify ourselves as East Coast and local.”

Consumer Contact

Reaching out to consumers has become more important than ever. Uses of new technology and social media are enabling the grower to break through the retail level into the consumer’s home. Strawberry growers hope these new approaches will result in the consumer asking the retail buyer to purchase their brand. Greeff noted that Driscoll’s now has more 70,000 likes on its Facebook page. “If you look at our page over the past two weeks (prior to Valentine’s Day), it has all been about desserts and strawberry cocktails for Valentine’s Day. It’s not just the idea of chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s. We are driving the potential for new consumption that will drive the retailers to have more strawberries in stock and perhaps even challenge the price point as well.”

Pages: 1 2

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

Weed ControlNational Scientific Summit On Herbicide Resistant Weeds…
August 27, 2014
Topics to be covered include the economics of proactively managing herbicide resistance, education and outreach efforts, and incentives and regulatory initiatives. Read More
FruitsFlorida Organic Group Dedicated To Serving Growers, Com…
August 27, 2014
Education and development programs are plentiful for interested producers. Read More
VegetablesExperimental Herbicide Technology Blasts Weeds In Rows
August 27, 2014
The technology uses an air compressor to spray corncob grit on both sides of a crop, killing young weeds. Read More
Disease ControlFungal Disease Outbreak Hits Pacific Northwest Vegetabl…
August 27, 2014
An outbreak of blackleg, light leaf spot, and white leaf spot can be significant problems in several vegetable crops.   Read More
CitrusClean Water Conundrum: Ditch The Rule Or Ditch The Myth…
August 26, 2014
Regulation inundation causing a rising tide of confusion for farmers. Read More
BerriesMichigan State University Extension Offers Tips To Prev…
August 26, 2014
Humidity, rainy periods conducive to disease development. Read More
FruitsSpotted Wing Drosophila Populations Rising In Michigan
August 26, 2014
Extension researchers advise berry growers on trapping, salt testing to take stock of pest population. Read More
Apples & PearsNorthwest Pear Crop Estimate Revised Upward
August 26, 2014
Washington and Oregon pear growers forecast a larger size crop than that originally estimated. Read More
VegetablesAgrium Acquires A Controlling Interest In Biotech Compa…
August 26, 2014
The company also acquires stake in Agricen Sciences as part of strategic effort to expand their offering of integrated, next-generation plant health technologies. Read More
Insect ControlCover All Angles When Taking On Threecornered Alfalfa H…
August 25, 2014
Learn how to ID, the survival and spread, and management methods for this insect pest. Read More
GrapesEarthquake Shakes Up Napa Wine Industry
August 25, 2014
Sunday’s early morning quake was centered just six miles from the city of Napa. Read More
OrangesNew Orange Pipeline Full Of Juice
August 25, 2014
Industry stakeholders are working on a rapid release model for processed varieties. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Citrus Cleared For Chinese Export
August 25, 2014
New agreement addresses concerns over brown rot. Read More
CitrusConsolidated Citrus Eyes Giant Planned Agricultural, Em…
August 25, 2014
South Florida real estate endeavor includes a 5 million-square-foot industrial park, including 200,000 square feet of retail space and 500 hotel rooms. Read More
Pest ControlManaging Lepidoptera In Tomatoes
August 22, 2014
This video provides information on how to best identify and control Lepidoptera in tomatoes. Read More
GrapesMichigan Conference Focuses On Impact Of Climate Change…
August 22, 2014
Experts from Michigan State University, Ohio State University, and Northwestern Michigan College to discuss Polar Vortex, technology, and unmanned systems at one-day conference. Read More
GrapesNew York Grape Grower Survey Reveals Huge Losses
August 22, 2014
Cornell Cooperative Extension publishes results of a grower poll of winter injury damage. Read More
GrapesOregon Anticipates Large Grape Harvest
August 22, 2014
Growers keep fingers crossed that late-season rainfall doesn’t ruin crop. Read More