Florida’s sweet corn marketing arm plans to remind retailers about the value of promoting corn and intends to drive consumer interest through a food blogger recipe contest.

The Maitland-based Florida Sweet Corn Exchange also plans to expand some of its promotions to Canada.

Corn promotion group touts benefits of non-summer corn

Jason Stemm, associate vice president of the New York-based Lewis & Neale Inc., the exchange’s marketing and public relations firm, said retailers remain enthusiastic and interested in promoting Florida corn this spring.

He said a later Easter, which falls on April 24, should help growers better hit that important holiday.

“Some of the times when Easter falls at the end of March, there has been a little uncertainty when volume will hit for Easter,” he said.

“But with a later time frame, retailers can confidently include it into their promotional plans for the holiday. Things are really looking good for Palm Beach County and Belle Glade this season.”

Stemm said retailers should find many opportunities to promote corn particularly as growers leave the cold winter weather. He said corn becomes a sign of summer with people wanting to fire up their grills.

To encourage more shoppers to place corn in their shopping carts, the exchange plans to sponsor a bloggers recipe contest.

The goal is to invite food bloggers to post recipes featuring fresh corn on their blogs in April. The exchange plans to conduct evaluations of entered recipes in its test kitchen through an expert panel, which would judge the winners and present prizes to the finalists.

“This will be good for the food bloggers and will be a chance for them to win some cash as bloggers aren’t usually monetized, plus this will give them some recognition amongst their peers,” Stemm said.

“We want these bloggers to get people thinking about new ways to use the product, to do something a little more innovative.”

While one can gain a good sense of what consumers are doing with food by reading magazines, Stemm said keeping an eye on chefs’ menus and sponsoring recipe contests provide a good view of diversity and ways people are using and preparing the products throughout the country.

Instead of investing heavily into social media, the exchange is developing new content for its website, including production of videos that show consumers how to cut kernels off the cob and prepare corn, using husks as handles and making corn interesting for barbecues, parties and family entertaining.

The website shows cooking methods beyond grilling and boiling, Stemm said.

To spur demand in Canada, the exchange is considering expanding its U.S. retail promotions to the neighboring country.

Though the exchange hasn’t really invested much marketing in the country, Stemm said Canada remains a strong customer of Florida corn.

He said the exchange plans to conduct small scale promotions this season, and said the region possesses potential for market growth.

“The country is ideal for Florida as we have access to a majority of the population within reason in the eastern half,” Stemm said.

“We haven’t been doing things in the past, so part of it will be to see where the opportunities lie.”

In the U.S., the exchange plans to continue its usual work with supermarket chains. To promote the sweet corn message to consumers, the exchange sponsors retail display contests, sales contests and sponsorships with retail consumer newsletters so shoppers understand the key corn marketing seasons, which hit in April and May.

“A lot of times, it’s building awareness amongst consumers that it’s there this time of the year,” Stemm said.

“We’re also educating retailers about taking a different approach to merchandising this time of the year versus in August. There are some opportunities available now that they don’t necessarily think of because they have always had that mentality of selling and merchandising corn in the summer.”

The exchange plans to continue its radio advertising plus offer retail point-of-sale materials, which are available for downloading on the exchange’s website, freshsupersweetcorn.com.