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Military Produce Group

Fresh, local fruit & vegetables for America’s service men & women

Local produce options should be made convenient for everyone – including America’s military personnel. In 2004 the Norfolk, Virginia-based Military Produce Group was established to provide fresh fruits, vegetables and plants to 95 commissaries east of the Mississippi and to select commissaries overseas.

Healthy eating programs

With the DeCA (Defense Commissary Agency) as its only customer, Military Produce Group dedicates all of its resources to serving military patrons and has specialized marketing programs to educate them on what’s available at their local commissary. MPG’s “Produce with a Promise” campaign promises low prices, premium quality and healthy solutions. Their “Eat Like a H.E.R.O (Healthy Eating Reduces Obesity)” program is geared towards kids and their local platform promotes locally grown produce. “That’s a program that’s pretty extensive for us right now with the popularity of the locally grown movement and sustainability,” said Heidi Raymond of The Military Produce Group. “Every month we check to see what’s available locally and then we market appropriately to those areas.”

Supporting local and shopper savings

The goal was, and is, to support local farm families and also provide the freshest possible produce to military men and women. “The commissary shopper seeks out great value,” said Raymond. “They make the trip to the commissary to save money but we wanted them to also see there’s a quality factor too; that you don’t have to go to a local farm market; you can shop right at the local commissary for premium quality produce.” Prices here are much lower than regular retail. “The prices that the commissaries provide to military families are amazing – they can’t be beat anywhere else. Our shoppers also understand that produce is freshest when purchased locally, so we wanted to take part in offering a local option.” A military family of four can save an average of $4,500 each year by shopping there.

In some locations farmers and growers are able to go into the commissary to meet their customers. “They’re able to talk about and sample their produce and there’s been great feedback from that,” Raymond said. “There’s a difference when they can actually look the farmer or the grower in the eye and make that personal connection. I think that adds that emotional piece that’s missing otherwise.”

Extended media coverage & marketing

Last year, Raymond spent time in some stores and also met patrons to provide additional education on their products. “Most shoppers didn’t realize that the commissaries carried local produce. They were thrilled to find out that local produce was being offered and that they had the opportunity to support the local movement in their areas.” MPG’s website features “Snacks for Little Soldiers” videos that feature recipe creation by local military children. “It’s a nice way for the families to get excited about healthy eating,” said Raymond. More media coverage is arranged through TV appearances on Portsmouth’s local Channel 10’s “The Hampton Roads Show” and also on Norfolk’s local Channel 3’s new show “The Coast” and features partnerships with growers including the New York Apple Association, which will appear with MPG to talk about apples recipes and healthy eating.

For more information:
Heidi Raymond
Military Produce
Ph: (757) 852-2700
[email protected]
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