The Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission this year will continue to work to build awareness around the state’s producers, the way they grow strawberries in the state and what makes California strawberry growers and their product unique, said Chris Christian, vice president of marketing.

The theme of this year’s marketing campaign is “California Strawberries — Universally Loved, Locally Farmed,” she said.

“We are focusing a lot of our efforts around California consumers,” she said, adding that California strawberries are “local” strawberries in the U.S. most of the year.

“We produce almost 90% of the strawberries grown in the U.S., and we represent 79% of the supply in the U.S.,” she said, especially from March through September.

The commission will build on its efforts from last year to get out the word about strawberries by engaging with mom and food bloggers, holding blogger events, forming blogger partnerships and hosting a blogger farm tour in the spring, Christian said.

Aside from their friends, many consumers — especially moms — say their No. 1 sources of information are the blogs they follow, she said.

Although the campaign will be highly focused on California, there will be some national components as well.

The commission will use some paid media such as sponsored content and online advertising to support public relations and social media efforts.

“We will build on what was most successful in our campaign this past year to expand in the current year,” Christian said.

The commission also will create a network of dietitians to serve as spokespeople, mostly at national events and conferences, like the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics conference in October in Houston, and on an as-needed basis throughout the year.

A number of public relations efforts will kick off during National Nutrition Month in March and continue into National Strawberry Month in May.

“We’re going to do things like radio news releases and working with members of our registered dietitians network,” she said.

“It will be perfect timing with when our production starts to ramp up in March.”

The commission will continue to promote its scholarship program for children of strawberry farmworkers with a number of activities scheduled for May, when the annual scholarships are presented.

The organization also will continue its engagement with chefs and menu developers.

“We’re planning to do some trade event sponsorships and also to have a custom California strawberry workshop during the summer in the Watsonville area,” she said.

The workshop will include field tours, educational activities and a chefs’ challenge for developing menu items containing strawberries.

Plans also call for continuing the commission’s engagement with retailers and support of regional trade events.

“We’ll be exhibiting at the National Grocers Association show for the first time in February,” Christian said.

That show was Feb. 10-13.

The focus on nutrition and health research also continues.

“We are currently supporting a human study on cognitive protection of strawberries in older adults that started last year,” Christian said.

New research that the commission will support include heart health studies with the Illinois Institute of Technology and one with Penn State University.

Finally, the commission will host with the annual California Strawberry Nutrition Research Meeting March 19-20 in Monterey.