Indiana’s state-run local food label hopes a new influx of cash from the legislature will help to court more businesses that sell local products.
It’s the first direct state funding the Indiana Grown program has received.
The state Department of Agriculture scraped the program together from existing funding the last two years, says commissioner Ted McKinney.
They recruited 800 members, he says. Nearly all of them are local producers.
“What we did not have funds to do was to reach new outlets – notably, restaurants, food service, wineries and breweries,” McKinney says.
Indiana Grown is getting $500,000 over the next two years to do that.
“With some money to create awareness, we’ll create consumer demand,” McKinney says. “And with that, we hope we then lift up producer sales.”
He says they hope to help producers label more items “Indiana Grown,” and connect them with more places to distribute those items.
For the consumer, he says, the label will mean “they can see and recognize the logo of Indiana Grown and know automatically, ‘Ah. It was produced or prepared here, and it’s certainly being sold here.’”
McKinney says that includes promoting fast-growing sectors such as Indiana hops and wine.
And for restaurants and retailers that join the program, he says, “it means we can single-handedly provide them with a very robust list of people with goods to sell.”
Kroger, Aldi and Marsh, which is currently going through bankruptcy, are already among Indiana Grown’s members. McKinney says they’re working to recruit Meijer and Wal-mart.
They also plan to run new ad campaigns and regional events for the program and expand its store at the State Fair. The store was run by Marsh last year.