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Marketing efforts help Georgia peaches wrap up a very sweet season despite rainy weather

When people think of Georgia, they think of peaches. And while the Peach State has not been the nation's top producer in many years volume-wise, when it comes to quality and name recognition, Georgia still earns its nickname. And this year's Georgia peach season looks like it may have been one for the record books.

Each year, Georgia produces more than 130 million pounds of peaches between mid-May and mid-August. And despite above-average GA-Peaches-1Georgia produces more than 130 million pounds of peaches each year. This season was one for the record books, despite rain throughout July. rainfall during the month of July that hampered harvesting, the Georgia Peach Council said the majority of its members picked and shipped 90 percent of full-crop estimates.

"One of the biggest challenges in a wet summer is consistency, and we managed to have not only excellent consistency but excellent quality from start to finish," said Will McGehee of the Georgia Peach Council. "Although a final tally is still being determined, from our standpoint as growers, 2013 will wind up being a great year."

Increased marketing efforts by the Peach Council paid off in retail and media recognition for its "Sweet Georgia Peaches" program.

"All in all, we believe that our marketing and public relations efforts, combined with the sweet and delicious flavor and reputation of Georgia peaches led to an extremely successful 2013 season," McGehee said.

For retailers, a "Georgia in July" marketing kit available for use by strategic partners in target markets throughout the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest was a hit. The kit included point-of-sale merchandising display bins highlighting freestone peaches, Sweet Georgia Peaches farm market bags, recipes and nutritional information.

Retailers were also encouraged to share the Sweet Georgia Peaches Facebook app with consumers. It allows consumers to send a 'virtual' Georgia peach to sweeten someone's day and can still be accessed by logging onto www.facebook.com/SweetGeorgiaPeaches.

On the consumer front, the council worked extensively to extend its awareness and education efforts from the Midwest to the East Coast. Registered dietitians promoted the versatility of Georgia peaches during televised healthy eating segments in select Southern markets. Sweet Georgia Peaches spokesperson and cookbook author Gena Knox appeared in cooking demonstrations for television stations in major Southeastern markets.

Social media played an increasingly important role in this year's campaign. In addition to regular Facebook and Twitter posts throughout the season, the council created a YouTube channel to tell the story of Georgia peach farmers, many of whom are fourth- or fifth-generation farmers. A series of videos is available online that highlight the state's peach producers, explain why Georgia peaches taste so sweet and provide consumers advice on how to pick the perfect peach.

To coincide with the YouTube channel launch and the first day of summer, the council scheduled Sweet Georgia Peach deliveries to television weathercasters in select cities. The result was a flurry of media mentions, as well as Facebook and Twitter posts showing pictures of meteorologists posing with their sweet treats.