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Utah’s Own Executive Panel
I heard three things I thought were really important: the distribution, the marketing strategy and education. I would recommend that you pull your groups together and see if you have all the right parties at the table. Maybe you need a few more people and then come up with a strategy, and we'll be supportive from the Governor's Office of Economic Development in any way we can. Our budgets are strapped as much as anybody's. But once you come up with that strategy and it's something that everybody can agree to, then you can work together with your local legislators.
We need to work together and really develop a strategy and get the local people to see what they can do to facilitate raising the awareness, because it doesn't necessarily have to happen at the high level. It happens from the American Stores level when they promote it in the stores. What kind of shelf space does it have? All those things come into play.
So how do we move forward and strengthen Utah’s Own?
HOUGHTALEN: To Spencer's point, there is an awful lot of fragmentation. There are a lot of people working on a lot of different things, and a lot of people are working on the same things in different ways. It makes sense for us to put together some kind of strategic plan that addresses some of these issues. Everybody is working on education in some form or fashion. We talk about a lot of the same things at a lot of the meetings over and over, but we don't seem to get off the dead center sometimes. We need a story to tell and we need a plan on how we are going to move this thing forward as a group.
HOUGHTALEN: We can play a bigger role in helping that group develop those plans. Because I find there are a lot of folks out there that have a great product, but don’t have a great business plan.
REICH: At Associated, we've created and paid for extra signage and said, "Go use it wherever you can to promote Utah's Own." If people could only feel how strongly we believe in it.
HUDSON: Your employees understand. At Dan's or Harmon's, the 18‑year‑old old kid who is stocking the produce department is like, "Wow, look at these great watermelons that came from Thompson Farms." If that person knows it, if the people on the front lines have ownership over it and understand it, it makes all the difference in the world. Or if you have great servers who can tell you, "This cheese is really exceptional; you should really try it."
HARMON: It's like going to a great restaurant like Log Haven, and you get a great waiter who can relate the flavors and smells and tastes and the freshness and the seasonality of what to order. I mean, forget about it, it's done—I want that. People are starved for that. You can engage people very quickly if you have a good story about the product.
GLAUSER: At Lunchboxers, we're going to be catering to 55 schools, a population equaling about 40,000 students each day. We're a unique in that it's not your typical Sloppy Joes on a tray; the lunches are made from scratch using local produce. One thing that Lunchboxers can do is market a consistent Utah's Own item daily to these young kids, and that will then track into our grocery stores. And we have recyclable cardboard trays that we need to brand—why not do Utah's Own brand?
HUDSON: I Oregon and New Mexico, they actually put photographs of farmers over the salad bars in the schools and have the farmers come into the schools. They are getting seasonal education and really putting a face on it. And those kids go home and say, "Mom, you have to buy this because I know this farmer." Oregon has seen extraordinary success.
REICH: We even have done some of that in our grocery stores, where we go out and take photos of the farmers.