Market Development Director
Michael Cranford, Marketing Specialist for Specialty Crops and Farm to School
Marketing Specialist for Specialty Foods and SUSTA
Agriculture is a vital part of our state’s economy, and our Market Development team is always working to find new opportunities for farmers and producers across the Palmetto State. Under the Marketing and Promotions Department, the team works to maintain and develop broad-based marketing programs that increase consumer awareness and product demand for quality South Carolina agricultural products at local, national, and international levels.
The team focuses on a variety of promotional opportunities, including trade shows, retail merchandising, industry engagement and networking events. The team’s goal is to help match up producers with appropriate markets – retail grocery, wholesale, food service, schools, institutions, and more – as well as to help them identify resources to build their capacity and reach new markets.
The Certified South Carolina program is a cooperative effort among producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture to brand and promote South Carolina grown and processed agricultural products.
Boldly displaying and identifying Certified South Carolina products in supermarkets and other retail venues is essential to increasing sales and creating a brand preference. We have a variety of point-of-sale signage available for retailers that are engaged in selling South Carolina products and who are associate members of the Certified South Carolina program. If you are a retailer, our team would love to explore the opportunity of working with you.
Networking and Promotional Events
Each year, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture exhibits at various food industry trade shows, including a few that offer the opportunity for South Carolina producers and agribusinesses to market their products to a global audience. Our team is proud to attend and exhibit at these events to promote the Certified South Carolina brand, as well as our state’s agriculture industry.
We also host an annual statewide networking event called the Certified South Carolina Showcase. The Showcase provides an opportunity for buyers and producers to meet face-to-face, with an emphasis on the state’s abundant produce, specialty food products, and marketing programs. Save the Date for the next Certified South Carolina Showcase, March 21, 2024!
South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association
The South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association works to support promotional, research, and educational efforts for improving the marketing and quality of production of fresh fruit, vegetable, and specialty crops grown in South Carolina. Our members are growers and others involved in the produce and specialty crop business in South Carolina. We work with all grower groups, government agencies, public universities, elected officials, and other public and private organizations or businesses to promote the best interest of fresh fruit, vegetable and specialty crops in South Carolina from production to consumption.
To learn more about members or memberships, visit the South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association website.
South Carolina Specialty Food Association
The South Carolina Specialty Food Association (SCSFA) is the only statewide organization dedicated to promoting the best specialty food products available in the Palmetto State.
For over 20 years, the South Carolina Specialty Food Association has helped farmers, producers, and retailers across the state grow their businesses through joint marketing programs, promotional campaigns, and technical assistance. A nonprofit association, SCSFA is headquartered in Columbia and works in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and supports Certified South Carolina. Active members of the association are required to be members of the Certified South Carolina program.
To learn more about members or memberships, visit the South Carolina Specialty Food Association website.
Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA)
The Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) helps small businesses in the Southern United States promote value-added U.S. food and agricultural products to foreign markets. SUSTA works with small businesses through education, global events, and cost share opportunities.
SUSTA-eligible companies range from fresh produce to beer, wine, and spirits. Eligible products may also include meat, dairy, horticulture, forest products, and specialty foods. If you’re a producer looking to share your product with the 95 percent of consumers who are outside of the United States, this is a great opportunity to reach that potential. To learn more, visit the SUSTA website, or reach out to our team.
South Carolina Farm to School
South Carolina Farm to School’s mission is to cultivate relationships among South Carolina schools, farmers, and communities, in order to increase the availability of healthy local food for schools, promote agriculture and nutrition education, and to provide experiential learning opportunities for students.
South Carolina Farm to School seeks to serve as a unified voice for the dissemination of farm to school resources, training, and information. Our core goals include providing education to food service staff on procuring and preparing local products, promoting SC Grown within school cafeterias, promoting and providing agriculture and nutrition education resources, and supporting hands-on learning experiences such as school gardens and farm field trips.
To learn more, visit the South Carolina Farm to School website, or reach out to our team.