News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE:
 October 15, 2008
CONTACT: Katie McKenna
kmckenna@topsmarkets.com

   
TOPS FRIENDLY MARKETS RAMPS UP HOMEGROWN PRODUCE FOR FALL GROWING, HARVEST SEASON
Number of Local Growers Increases by 26 Percent in 2008

Williamsville, NY – With the fall 2008 growing and harvest season in full swing, Tops Friendly Markets (Tops) is placing an ever-increasing emphasis on stocking its store shelves with fresh, homegrown produce.

Since the beginning of 2008, Tops has increased the number of local growers it does business with by 26 percent, while in the process of returning to a locally operated company.

“Purchasing our fruits and vegetables from local growers has benefits that are too numerous to list,” said Frank Curci, president and CEO of Tops. “Supporting local growers not only boosts the local economy, but it allows us to provide safe and farmed fresh produce to our customers, helps local family farmers and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by cutting down on the distance it takes for the food to travel from the farm to our stores.”

Curci added, “Since the acquisition by Morgan Stanley Private Equity last December, the focus at Tops has been to once again be a locally operated and managed company. Throughout the year we have taken many important steps to reach that goal and undoubtedly, using local growers to become a larger part of our produce supply chain was one of the most important. We are pleased with the quality and number of local growers we have been able to bring on board and we are working to add even more.”

Growers that Tops has partnered with for many years have seen more activity from the grocer in 2008.

“Tops Friendly Markets and Eden Valley Growers have a strong, long-standing relationship,” said Dave Walczak, operations manager at Eden Valley Growers in Eden, N.Y. “Since Tops began its transition to being a locally operated company, we've definitely seen an increase in activity in terms of quantity and variety of products, especially as consumers are looking to acquire products closer to home. Now more than ever, consumers want to know that the produce they're buying is fresh and grown locally. We work closely with Tops to ensure that the consumers’ needs are met.”

Directly connected to increasing the number of local growers is the effort to actively promote homegrown produce in stores, according to Patrick Curran, Tops senior vice president of sales and merchandising.

“A key part of our plan has been marketing,” Curran said. “We feel it is vitally important to tell our customers where the produce they purchase is coming from, which gives the consumer peace of mind that the fruits and vegetables are homegrown, fresh, familiar and safe for their families to consume.”

Curran stated that Tops has significantly increased in-store signage promoting homegrown produce and has used its advertising vehicles to help communicate the names and locations of the growers.

Tops Friendly Markets has held numerous special sales and events surrounding homegrown produce. In August, each of the 71 Tops stores hosted an outdoor, homegrown corn sale. Tops’ produce team coordinated the event, which focused on corn and other locally grown favorites including watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, peppers and green beans. Tops enjoyed record sales that week.

In addition, produce managers from each Tops store recently took part in a meeting at Mayer Bros. Cider Mill in West Seneca, N.Y. to learn more about the homegrown produce coming to Tops stores. Tops has added Mayer Bros. apple cider to its store shelves this year.

“These types of gatherings are important to our managers,” said Rick Wright, Tops produce and floral marketing manager. “It gives them the first-hand look and feel of the quality homegrown produce that they will have available to their customers.”

Tops Markets, LLC, is headquartered in Williamsville, NY and operates 71 full-service supermarkets and five franchise supermarkets. With over 10,000 associates, Tops is the leading full-service grocery retailer in Western New York, Central New York, including Rochester, and Northwestern Pennsylvania. For more information about Tops Markets, visit the company's Web site at www.topsmarkets.com.

 

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