By Clint Thompson
Florida’s tomato industry needs to improve its promotional efforts in educating consumers about the benefits of supporting locally grown produce.
That is the stance shared by Michael Schadler, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee and executivevice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange. He stressed during the Florida Tomato Conference in Labelle, Florida earlier this month that Florida tomatoes are the only U.S. field grown tomato available on the market from November to May.
That’s a fact that the producers and industry specialists should take better advantage of to combat rising imports from other countries.
“I think we should emphasize it more. We at the association level have gotten away from promotions and marketing, but I think even if we don’t get more into it at the association level, I think it’s a real opportunity for our growers and shippers to highlight that and be more emphatic about the American grown element and the field grown element,” Schadler said.
“It’s tough in the produce section because the labeling and signage isn’t always great. But I think U.S. growers can do a better job of, not just with tomatoes, but we’ve got so many imports in the produce section now that American growers really need to start emphasizing that more.”
Schadler stressed during the conference that imports, specifically from Mexico, remain at near record highs.