The “Jersey Fresh” logo, once the exclusive domain of tender lettuces in May, juicy peaches in July, white corn in August, and other products hailing from New Jersey fields and waters, is being extended to packaged foods that are manufactured using Jersey-grown ingredients. The new designation is, “Made with Jersey Fresh.”
“When ‘Jersey Fresh’ hits in the spring, it has enormous impact,” says state secretary of agriculture Douglas H. Fisher, who was a grocer for 30 years before entering government. “It has its cachet. That’s why we’re taking it to the next dimension, saying you can have ‘Jersey Fresh’ year-round.”
Tying into the eat-local movement, the new campaign’s goal is to support New Jersey farms, of which there are currently more than 10,000, and now local manufacturers who support those farms. Begun in 1983, New Jersey’s is the second oldest state agriculture branding program in the country, after Vermont’s “Seal of Quality.” Today, 48 states have such marketing programs.
Food processors seeking to use the “Made with Jersey Fresh” logo on their packaging must be licensed by the state and use products inspected through the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program. Currently, the new logo can be found on jarred tomato sauce and canned tomatoes, bottled peach cider and blueberry iced tea, frozen eggplant and zucchini, and several dairy products. It is expected to expand to honey, seafood, and more.
Earlier this year, Scott Stark of Bergenfield and David Stoff of Hillsdale introduced their Two Guys Jersey Tomato Sauce, made with 100 percent Jersey tomatoes, and have recently added the “Made with Jersey Fresh Tomatoes” logo to their labels.
“New Jersey tomatoes are naturally sweet, so we don’t have to add any sugar,” Stark explained to those sampling the product at the Fancy Food Show in Manhattan this summer. One aisle over, John Celentano of Toms River was offering tastes of the company’s Jersey Naturals line of tomato sauce.
“When we ask people if they want to try a marinara sauce, they shrug,” Celentano said. “When we say it’s made with Jersey tomatoes, they say, ‘yes!’”
Dairy products seeking the “Made with Jersey Fresh Milk” logo must use raw milk from New Jersey dairy farms. Thomas Pugliese, owner of Antonio Mozzarella Factory in Springfield and Newark, was the first dairy manufacturer to add the logo to the cheeses he makes. He says customers are starting to take notice.
“We call it Jersey support,” says Pugliese, whose hand-ladled ricotta was a silver finalist at the Fancy Food Show. “We’re supporting local farmers. Then customers gravitate to those products, even if they’re a few cents more, because they want to lend their support, too.”Click here to leave a comment