ATLANTA  — Consumer food bloggers have become one of the top consumer sources for recipe and nutrition information, and an Oct. 15 session at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2011 expo explored how produce marketers can successfully work with food bloggers.

Connecting with bloggers can help better market produceJin Ju Wilder, owner of Status Gro, a South Pasadena, Calif.-based consulting firm, moderated a discussion of blogging that featured four bloggers who write about cooking, food and travel.

Wilder, who for years worked at Los Angeles-based Coast Produce Co., where she was vice president of operations, said connecting with food bloggers can help increase sales.

“From mommy bloggers to foodies, smart marketers realize they can’t market without reaching food bloggers,” Wilder said. “These bloggers are real people. You can really make a connection with them.”

Wilder cited programs conducted by the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission, which included hosting events with Southern California food bloggers. Wilder showed photos of the bloggers visiting groves and learning more about the state’s avocado production.

A blog program can transcend traditional public relations and marketing programs, Wilder said.

“It can provide an important connection to those folks and be integrated into everything you do in communications,” she said. “The avocado commission engages consumers through the blog writers spring through fall and provide a lot of outreach from culinary to parenting blogs. This has generated awareness of California’s avocados and promoted their nutritional benefits and the product’s versatile use.”

Katie Peterson, a public relations executive who has helped promote products such as Mexican avocados, highbush blueberries and North Carolina Sweet Potatoes, said marketers should understand the blog and the blog’s topics.

“Marketers have for years realized blogs are a growing trend and have struggled to figure out how to work with them,” Peterson said. “Blogs cover every area of food. My colleagues and I realized an area we really need to tap into. Bloggers have huge influence and huge followings, and are really connecting with consumers. As we work to build relationships with traditional media, we really need to work to build relationships with bloggers.”