Customers at U-picks and fruit stands this summer will spot colourful reminders about why they’re buying those raspberries, strawberries and other locally grown fruits.
The Prairie Fruit Growers Association in Manitoba is launching a new fruit-branding program in a joint venture with growers in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
“It’s the Taste” is the slogan growers in the three Prairie provinces affiliated with these associations can now opt to use in their marketing, with logos available to affix to signs, pails and baskets, even hats or vehicles.
The brand program was developed after the Canadian Prairie Fruit Federation. Growers in the three Prairie provinces secured Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) Program funding in 2011 through the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council (MRAC) to do market research into new ways to promote Prairie-grown fruit.
The federation had several goals, including increasing direct-to-consumer sales by building a visual identity for Prairie-grown fruit, and increasing awareness of local fruits attributes.
“It’s a way to give yourselves more visibility,” said Anthony Mintenko, Manitoba Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives’ fruit crops business development specialist during the PFGA annual general meeting earlier this spring.
The “It’s the Taste” slogan of the brand should resonate with consumers. They told market researchers that’s the main reason they buy Prairie-grown fruit. Surveys done by Black Sheep Strategy, the consulting firm hired, found 39 per cent saying they purchased Prairie-grown fruit primarily for its freshness and flavour. Others (28 per cent) said their main reason for buying local fruit is to support local growers while 14 per cent said they buy it because its quality is superior to anything found in stores. Those surveyed included core customers at U-picks and purchasers at farm gates, as well as fruit industry partners.
The Prairie provinces are taking a cue from Eastern Canada where a brand program called Les Fraîches du Québec was launched in 2009 in Quebec. More than 100 growers adopted that program in the first season.
Waldo Thiessen, PFGA secretary said he’s pleased to see the brand program released and anticipates it will benefit fruit growers. He admitted feeling a bit skeptical when the federation first formed but not now, he said. “I think this is a major accomplishment,” he said at the PFGA annual meeting.
Grower members of any of the three participating Prairie associations, including Prairie Fruit Growers Association in Manitoba, the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association, and Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association are all eligible to participate in the brand program.