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New Jersey Peach Promotion Council touting high-quality state-grown peaches

Pegi Adam, director of communications for the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, told The Produce News that the council has produced two videos for retailers to use in their closed loop televisions -- one meant for produce professionals and the other for consumers.14-Buyer-guide-Cover0527201

"Supermarkets will start buying Jersey peaches in mid-July due to the crop running a little late this year," said Adam. "The videos should be ready by that time. One will help produce workers learn how to increase sales by rotating the peaches and offer display tips and advice. The other is for consumers and provides storage, handling and usage tips."

The council announced in June that the 2014 edition of the New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide is now available. It offers valuable information for wholesale and retail buyers on where and how to buy and handle New Jersey peaches and nectarines.

"The guide lists, in alphabetical order, growers and shippers of New Jersey peaches including their brands, and general information on what and how they ship," said Adam. "This section has been completely rewritten for easier use and placement on the New Jersey Peaches website at www.jerseypeaches.com. It also contains a complete listing of farm market retailers of Jersey peaches with their websites."

She noted that the guide has been an important source of information for the media over the years because it provides details and statistics on the peach industry. Color photos of some of the most important varieties are highlighted along with details on when they are available for buyers. Information also is included on the 2014 Jersey Fresh promotional program for peaches and the quality-grading program run by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Details on officers and directors of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council are listed along with an outline of plans for the 2014 promotional program on peaches.

The guide is available by contacting jfrecon@verizon.net.

"We are also having a phone survey conducted this year," said Adam. The phone poll is being conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

"People will be asked where they see Jersey peaches advertised, where they buy them and other questions related to how they are aware of Jersey peaches. The results of the survey will be released in August," Adam said.

She also mentioned the Just Peachy Salsa campaign that combines the generosity of Jersey peach growers and the Campbell's [Soup Co. Foundation] to benefit the South Jersey Food Bank. Jersey growers donate the fruit and Campbell's volunteers the labor and time to produce the salsa, which is then donated to the food bank. It is sold in numerous retail, farm markets and specialty stores, and it can be ordered on the food bank's website.

Increasingly more stores, farm markets and foodservice operators are jumping on board each year for the council's Peach Party events to promote New Jersey peaches. Last year it had 35 events, and Adam said that she hopes to top that number again this year.

"People are still booking them, so we won't know until the end of the season how many we'll end up having, but the numbers climb every year," she said. "Participants are allowed to develop their own event in ways that work best for them. A retail store, for example, can display banners and offer samplings. Farm stands can organize events that include activities for participants and restaurants can create a menu that includes peaches. They want to hold their events under our umbrellas because they can use our point of sale materials, such as our brochures and banners."

Adam said that the New Jersey peach crop looks vigorous this year and is expected to yield 30,000 tons to 35,000 tons of fruit from the state's 5,500 acres of trees.

Jerry Frecon, Rutgers professor emeritus of fruit science, a consultant to the council, and editor of the annual New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide, said, "Our peach buds survived a brutal winter, a cool and frosty spring and are still loaded with fruit."

He added that some of the best growers of the year's peach crop are excited about the quality and size of their crops. This summer's favorite fruit is coming to market about ten days later than usual, around the second week in July, according to growers polled.

The peach promotion council stresses that New Jersey's more than 100 varieties ripen at different times through the summer, starting with white-fleshed and yellow cling peaches and nectarines, and proceeding with yellow-flesh, flat and nectarines throughout August and into September.

"We want retailers to know that our high-quality New Jersey peaches are available throughout most of September -- especially true this year because the season will wrap up late due to the late start," said Adam. "We encourage retailers and foodservice operators to promote and offer peaches to consumers and to help get the word out. It's still warm in September, and people, kids included, love the sweet juicy peaches and nectarines."