PA Preferred is more than just a branding or marketing program in the eyes of business owner Wendie DiMatteo Holsinger.
“When consumers see the PA Preferred label on food products, they can be assured that product is from Pennsylvania,” Holsinger, President and CEO of Palmyra-based ASK Foods, said. “PA Preferred is an excellent program – especially for consumers who want to purchase locally grown food products.”
Nearly 2,000 state-based food and beverage manufacturers have joined PA Preferred since it was created nearly 10 years ago, according to Samantha Elliott Krepps, Press Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Program participants range from large grocery store chains like Carlisle-based Giant Foods to small roadside produce stands, wineries, restaurants, hardwood producers, Christmas tree farms and businesses like ASK Foods.
Members use the PA Preferred logo with products they make or sell to signify the items come from Pennsylvania. Program members also get other benefits including participation in buyer-vendor shows, according to Krepps.
“Buying fresh, local products helps local farmers and keeps PA’s economy moving forward,” Krepps said, when asked about the benefits of the program. “PA Preferred signifies the diversity of PA’s agriculture. It is a visual representation of the 62,000 farm families, small businesses and related industries who work within the agriculture industry.”
It’s safe to say consumer awareness has grown with the number of program participants.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducted a social media program for PA Preferred with Facebook members registering approximately 13,000 likes, and the agency used the Pennsylvania Farm Show to showcase and market PA Preferred to the nearly 585,000 attendees.
Holsinger believes the popularity of PA Preferred will grow with food and beverage manufacturers as consumers continue to demand products produced in their own backyards.
“There is a trend, a grassroots movement, in the food industry to favor regional and local suppliers, which bodes well for Pennsylvania producers,” Holsinger said. “ASK Foods is committed to buying from local and regional producers and all of our production is based in Pennsylvania.”
Holsinger also feels the locally grown movement is being fueled by consumers because that is what they desire. This, she added, ultimately benefits local communities in numerous ways.
“Local businesses are the ones who are involved in their local communities as compared to someone who isn’t there,” Holsinger said. “These businesses contribute to charitable causes and are involved in giving back to their communities, so there are many reasons to buy locally.”
“What’s important is PA Preferred helps keep jobs in Pennsylvania,” Krepps said. “Pennsylvanians know they are preparing affordable, wholesome and fresh meals for their families with products that have received worldwide respect for their quality when they see the PA Preferred label.”
For more on this marketing initiative, visit papreferred.com.