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Pegi Adam, director of communications for the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council in Clayton, NJ, told The Produce News in late June that the council has been looking for ways to get grocery stores to push Jersey peaches more strongly and to promote them longer into the season.

"When Jersey peaches first come on, our retailers tell us that their customers are waiting for them," she said June 27. "We continually struggle with the mentality of when school starts in the fall, people's mindsets switch to apples, and peach sales drop quickly and dramatically. But one of our major retailers told us that September 1, when school sessions resume, apples aren't really ready yet. This is one reason why we will hopefully get retailers to focus more on locally grown peaches beyond Labor Day. The display contest is one way to prompt them to do that, and in a fun and exciting way."

Ms. Adam said that entries must be in place for at least two weeks between July 25 and Aug. 31 but that the council is hoping that retailers will leave their displays throughout the month of August. The winning display will receive $500, the second-place winner will receive an iPod and the third-place winner will receive a digital camera.

The contest is open to all New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia metropolitan area grocery stores and supermarkets. Entrants need to create an attention-getting display that promotes Jersey-grown peaches and prominently mention Jersey-fresh peaches in store ads or circulars. The council suggests that stores consider partnering with other departments or companies for cross-promotion opportunities.

"The Peach Promotion Council is sponsoring the contest as a means for stores to promote and enhance sales," council President Santo John Maccherone said in a June 24 press release. "We hope produce department workers will be enthusiastic and have some fun creating lively displays that call attention to our own state peaches."

Stores may use any New Jersey Peach Promotion Council point-of-purchase materials or print collateral. The council will provide a banner on loan and provide brochures, recipe booklets, price cards and peach photos on request and at no cost.

Entry judging will be done by representatives of council and New Jersey Department of Agriculture, based on volume and variety of fresh peaches (including yellow, white and flat varieties) and nectarines, and on eye-catching displays.

Entries must be received no later than Oct. 1, and winners will be notified by Dec. 15.

"We want parents to think peaches instead of apples when school starts," said Ms. Adam. "The council is working closely with the NJDA on the Farm to School program in an effort to get peaches into the mix of school food. When school starts, let's put some peaches in those lunches. You have the entire winter to sell apples."