With one year in the books, a statewide initiative designed to promote Hoosier goods and services is claiming success. Indiana Grown, launched by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, now includes more than 500 members and 38 partners, including Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets and The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR). State Ag Director Ted McKinney says response to the program has exceeded expectations, which demonstrates "the local food movement is real" and not a passing fad. He adds some affiliated businesses have reported "several hundred percent" growth while being involved.
McKinney tells Inside INdiana Business there’s more to come from Indiana Grown. He says three keys to the future include growing big retail partnerships; tapping more into the "ready-made" food service, restaurant, winery and brewery connections; and building more non-food collaborations, including the Indiana hardwood industry. He tells Inside INdiana Business potential partnerships with Wal-Mart and Meijer stores are still a possibility.
"There are a multitude of products that are in-demand by consumers, and so the degree to which we can build the diversity of our state, that’s important," McKinney said. "The cycles of corn, soy, pork, poultry and dairy can be high-highs and low-lows and right now, we’re experiencing low-lows in terms of profitability on those soybean, corn and some cases pork and poultry farms, and so to the degree to which they can bring back a son, a daughter, a niece, a nephew, with diverse and new, different offerings. Get into vegetable production, for example, put up green houses and produce year-round. All the diversity that we have come to re-discover in Indiana offers great opportunity." McKinney says the wide range of products involved in Indiana Grown have exceeded his expectations.
Indiana Grown helps connect consumers to things grown, produced or processed within the state through marketing efforts and distribution partnerships. The program highlights four degrees of Hoosier goods:
- 100% Indiana: must be grown, all ingredients must come from and all packaging must be done in Indiana.
- Prepared in Indiana: ingredients can be sourced from anywhere, but all production must be done here.
- Partner: company or institution must assist in marketing Indiana grown products and members.
- Indiana Grown: applies to all other Indiana Grown members, such as individuals.
There is no cost to becoming an Indiana Grown member and you can find out more by clicking here.