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April 09, 2003   Email to Friend 

Alabama group takes "Go South" initiative to Canada
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
April 09, 2003

From left, George Warden of Mobile County, Dr. John Gamble of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and Art Sessions of Mobile County examine clementines, an orange similar to satsumas, in the Ontario Produce Terminal in Toronto.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- As part of an on-going search for new market outlets for Alabama's crops, farmers and representatives from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries recently visited Canada to explore market opportunities there. Working with the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) the group of Alabama farmers was led by Dr. John Gamble, Department of Agriculture and Industries' Economic Administrator. Producers and state officials left April 1 for the three-day "Go South" initiative in Toronto, Ontario.

The "Go South" initiative represents a marketing effort designed to increase Alabama speciality crops, including fresh produce and nut sales, and to encourage greater Canadian consumer access as to the availability of Southern crops. Food brokers and grocery stores in the Toronto area are being encouraged to make Southern products available to their consumers.

While in Canada, the Alabama producers visited the Ontario Food Terminal and participated in supermarket tours of Loblaws, A&P, Pusateri's, Fortinos, Longo Brothers Fruit Markets, and Highland Farms. In addition to the tours, Alabama farmers participated in individual and group appointments with Canadian retail and wholesale buyers. The Alabama group discussed required transportation and export requirements for delivery of Alabama product to various Canadian markets.

During the past few years, the "Go South" initiative has resulted in numerous Canadian in-store visits and product demonstrations, distribution of extensive consumer information materials, television spots, numerous print articles, celebrity in-store visits and extensive print ads.

Commissioner Sparks said the trip marks the first time that Alabama farmers have visited Toronto to see how Southern products are being accepted there.

One of the trip participants, Doug Lipscomb of Foley has had great success in selling sweet corn into this market, Sparks said. He said Alabama farmers are anxious to see how peaches, pecans, satsumas, and other Alabama-produced vegetable crops will fit into this export market outlet.

In addition to Gamble and Lipscomb, those making the trip included:  George Warden and Art Sessions, both of Grand Bay; Tiffany Seay, Foley; Jerry Ingram, Lowndesboro; James Sirmon, Daphne; Homer Henson, Louisville; Jared Forrester, Columbia; Arnold Caylor, Cullman, and Alabama Farmers Federation Horticulture Director Brian Hardin. The farmers marking this "Go South" initiative produce various vegetables, peaches, watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet corn, potatoes, satsumas, fruits and nuts.

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