Page 24 - 2018Magazine3
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“This gave the brokers more flexibility to       together in 2013, travelling to meet with
        cover orders to retailers, but one result was that  retailers. “I saw first hand the power of the
        Georgia peaches lost their identity,” says Hoots.  Georgia peach brand,” Hoots says.
        “Our peaches were no longer marketed as               The three fifth-generation peach farmers
        Georgia peaches, but as Eastern peaches or         became trio partners in Genuine Georgia in
        Southern peaches – shoppers often couldn’t         2015. “By cooperating instead of competing with
        even tell what a Georgia peach was.”               each other,’ says Hoots, “We have significantly
          According to the USDA, Georgia now trails        increased demand for our state’s signature
        South Carolina and California in peach             fruit.”
        production – a fact that spurs the passion            As a sales and marketing cooperative,
        behind Genuine Georgia’s mission.  “As Georgia     Genuine Georgia now sells and markets peaches
        peach growers, we lost our competitive             for all five commercial peach farms in Georgia:
        advantage,” says McGehee. “Retailers started       Pearson Farm and Lane Southern Orchards in
        thinking ‘a peach is a peach is a peach,’ but this  Fort Valley, Taylor Orchards in Reynolds, Dickey
        couldn’t be further from the truth.”               Farms in Musella, and Fitzgerald Fruit Farm in

             “There’s an art to knowing the precise time to pick a peach.  You can’t learn

                this in a book.  As fifth-generation farmers, we all watched our dads and

               granddads do this and now we’re passing on this knowledge to our kids.”

        Rebuilding the Brand                               Woodbury. “This has added immeasurable value
        In forming Genuine Georgia, one of the             to the Georgia peach industry by enabling a
        McGehees’ primary goals was to reestablish the     consistent supply and pricing integrity, which is
        Georgia peach brand in the minds of consumers      the name of the game,” says McGehee.
        by taking control of the sale and marketing of
        the peaches grown on their family farm, the        They Just Taste Better
        Pearson Farm. By 2010, they had done just that     Lane says there are easier crops to plant and
        — Genuine Georgia was marketing and selling        make money on than peaches. “As an industry,
        100 percent of the farm’s peaches.                 we had to figure out how to charge more money
          At about this time, Will started talking to Duke  for a box of peaches.”
        Lane III, a fellow peach farmer in Fort Valley who    It turns out the solution was stressing
        was in charge of sales for his family’s peach farm,  something that lifetime peach farmers like
        Lane Southern Orchards. “We were discussing        McGehee, Lane and Hoots knew but many others
        marketing ideas and merchandising strategies,      took for granted: the fact that Georgia peaches
        and Will asked me to attend a meeting with a       taste better than peaches grown anywhere else.
        retailer in Tampa with him,” says Lane.            “We knew we had something special with
          They decided to sell this retailer on the idea of  Georgia peaches,” says Lane. “By working closely
        buying Georgia peaches, instead of peaches from    with retailers who are marketing and
        one of their farms. “We quickly found out that     merchandising Georgia peaches for what they
        retailers were very receptive to this,” says Lane.  are — the best-tasting peaches in the world — we
        “By teaming up and working together, we were       have increased the demand and the price for
        able to provide retailers with what they wanted the  Georgia peaches.”
        most – a consistent supply of Georgia peaches.”       The numbers reveal how successful Genuine
          Hoots, McGehee and Lane started working          Georgia has been in turning around the Georgia

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