The Florida Sweet Corn Exchange has launched a new program this season that its members hope will highlight to consumers the taste, quality and availability of Florida’s sweet corn. “Sunshine Sweet – Fresh from the Sunshine State” sweet corn will roll out soon and be available through the Memorial Day holiday.
The idea behind branding Florida’s famous sweet corn, exchange members said, is to get away from the notion that all corn is the same. “We are using the extra sweet varieties for the branded sweet corn,” said Paul Allen of R.C. Hatton, head of the exchange. “Our variety committee selects those varieties that are able to be branded. They’re the varieties that are the sweetest and the most tender.”
The brand’s sweet corn will be grown in specially designated fields and inspected by USDA at point of shipment. In addition, all growers participating in the program must be third-party-certified that they are incorporating industry standards in food safety and other practices.
Allen says the exchange is pleased to have 131 retail chains as partners in the program, which will run for four weeks beginning April 16. All members of the exchange are participating.
The brand’s messages are being communicated through traditional and social media and emphasize freshness and the exceptionally sweet flavor of Sunshine Sweet corn. The program’s website (sunshinesweetcorn.com) offers information about how sweet corn evolved, how to prepare and store it, how much corn is grown in the Sunshine State, and more. The program also is strong on retailer training and point-of-sale materials.
What surprises some people is that Florida is the largest grower of fresh sweet corn in the United States and has been for 50 years…
…said Jason Stemm of Lewis and Neale, the exchange’s marketing and public relations firm. “They think of corn grown in places like Illinois, but that corn is generally grown for processing or animal feed.”
The idea for the trademark branding began about a year ago as a way to help retailers draw attention to Florida sweet corn.
“The thinking was that we had this Sunshine Sweet name, but the nature of the product makes it very difficult to identify on the product itself. So we rely on our retail partners to help identify it at the point of sale to consumers,” Stemm said. For example, a “Fun in the Sun” consumer sweepstakes will feature prizes including a stay at the Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa, Bose speakers, and iTunes gift cards.
“The thought was that we would be providing retailers a reason to put up some signage at point of sale to give their customers a chance to win prizes and help communicate the Sunshine Sweet brand,” Stemm said.
Lewis and Neale tested name development to create a brand that would speak to the attributes of the product. “We wanted to communicate consumer preferences, uses and thoughts about sweet corn and include a tie-in with its geographical identification,” Stemm added.
Allen says the warm weather that much of the country has been enjoying this spring could contribute to increased sales of the sweet corn. “A lot of people who enjoy sweet corn may not normally buy it in April, but it’s been warm, and people have been getting outside more this year. We anticipate a good response to the branding.”
For more information on the new brand,
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) ale or beer*
- 1 onion, cut in 8 wedges
- 2 tablespoons ground seafood seasoning blend
- 4 small thin-skinned (not baking) potatoes, quartered (about 1-¼ pounds)
- 4 ears fresh supersweet corn, husked and cut in 2-inch pieces
- ½ small cabbage, cut in 4 wedges
- 1 pound unpeeled large shrimp
In a large saucepot, combine 6 cups water, the ale, onion and seafood seasoning; bring to a boil. Add potatoes; cover and boil until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in corn, cabbage and shrimp; return to a boil; cook until cabbage is tender and shrimp turns pink, about 5 minutes.
Yield: 4 portions
* 12 ounces of water can be substituted
Per Portion: 389 calories, 30 g protein, 3 g fat, 57 g carbohydrate, 199 mg sodium