Tops Friendly Markets to promote NY state grown and certified farms

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Tops Friendly Markets will promote the New York State Grown & Certified program to highlight farms that qualify under the New York State Grown & Certified seal. Tops is the first grocery retailer to feature and market product grown by New York farmers who adhere to the program’s requirements, including verification of safe food handling practices and participation in environmental sustainability programs. Product sold under the State’s NYS Grown & Certified seal will be available at more than 80 Tops stores in the Western New York and the Finger Lakes regions. As the State continues to roll out the retail component of the program, product will be available at additional retailers.

“New York is supporting locally-grown products and promoting healthy lifestyles by connecting farm-fresh food with consumers across the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “Under the NYS Grown & Certified program, Tops Friendly Markets will bring certified foods to local communities, support our hard-working farms, and provide nutritional food options to New Yorkers statewide.”

A NYS Grown & Certified pilot display was unveiled at a Tops store in Erie County today that features produce, including herbs, cabbage, and acorn and butternut squash from farms in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions. Consumers will also find fruits and other vegetables branded under the NYS Grown & Certified seal at participating Tops stores. A total of 145 Tops stores across the State will begin promoting NYS Grown & Certified products in the coming weeks. The New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets is also working with other retailers to market NYS Grown & Certified products.

A NYS Grown & Certified social media campaign has launched to further market New York farms involved in the initiative and educate consumers on the value of the program. Consumers can now follow NYS Grown & Certified on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Additionally, several promotional videos were created to give consumers an inside look at NYS Grown & Certified farms. The videos feature Satur Farms on Long Island and Minkus Family Farms in the Hudson Valley. They are available here and here.

To highlight the New York producers who meet program requirements, NYS Grown & Certified is supported by a multi-pronged marketing campaign, including on-product labels, promotional materials, website, and social media channels. The initiative was the focus of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ exhibit at the New York Produce Show in New York City in December, and the Department will continue to promote the program at upcoming industry events such as the New York State Agricultural Society annual forum and the Empire State Producers Expo.

John Persons, president and chief operating officer of Tops Friendly Markets, said, “Partnering with local growers is something that Tops takes great pride in and the New York State Grown & Certified Program embraces this valuable relationship. This initiative allows us to continue to offer our customers the very best produce that our state has to offer and we’re proud to stand behind this program and the farmers that harvest these bountiful crops.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Ball said, “New York’s producers have a great story to tell and we’re proud to help them tell it through the New York State Grown & Certified program. The Governor understands that agriculture is a major driver of our economy and that we have some of the best growers in the world, who take the extra step to bring products to market that are handled in the right way and who do so in an environmentally conscious manner. We thank Tops Friendly Markets for supporting our efforts to promote our producers and put certified products in the hands of consumers.”

NYS Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Fruits and vegetables are the centerpiece of a nutritious diet. By expanding statewide access to local foods under the New York State Grown & Certified program, Governor Cuomo is helping more New Yorkers eat healthy and promoting sustainably grown local produce and the New York farms which grow it.”

Michael E. Rosen, President & CEO, Food Industry Alliance said, “Food retailers are excited that the New York Grown and Certified Program combines the essential elements of identifying locally grown and processed foods with those that are certified as adhering to food safety and environmental standards. This is a real win for consumers who want to support local farmers, but also care deeply about food safety and protecting the environment.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, “Creating ways to better connect consumers with locally grown products not only helps to encourage the eating of nutritious foods, it also helps to strengthen New York’s family farms. I am excited to see Tops Friendly Markets taking part in this program, and look forward to its expansion in other parts of the state. I would like to thank the Governor and Commissioner Ball for their work to make it easier for New Yorkers to ‘eat local’ and look forward to continuing our efforts to bolster the link between consumers and foods grown by our hardworking farmers.”

Eden Valley Growers, Sales & Operations Manager, David Walczak, said, “The member farms of Eden Valley Growers, Inc. are very excited about the New York Grown & Certified Program! Growing vegetables and giving back to the environment at the same time have always been of great importance to us. Now we can proudly display the New York Grown & Certified Seal proclaiming this!”

Bill Zittel, Amos Zittel & Sons, Inc. said, “We are very excited to have the NYS Grown & Certified label on our product since we feel it is very important to the consumer to know where their produce comes from. We are proud of our product and marketing organization Eden Valley Growers, and strive to grow the best quality produce using IPM management practices as well as through GAP certification to assure safe, healthy vegetables.”

Karin Reeves, Reeves Farms, said, “Every year our customers seem more interested in learning about where and how their food is grown. We take pride in our farm’s history and also in how we have been able to adapt with the times. We are still a seasonal, family-run farm, but we have been able to implement programs and projects over time that have improved our farm’s food safety practices and decreased our impact on the environment. The New York State Grown & Certified program gives us another opportunity to convey this message to our customers. The program gives customers a quick and simple way to make an informed choice about their produce.”

For more information about Tops Markets, visit the company’s website at www.topsmarkets.com.

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