WENATCHEE, Wash. – As a part of its Taste Local campaign, Peirone unveiled a new truck trailer featuring 4th generation orchardist, Kaitlyn Thornton, to drive awareness about the growers behind its products during a retailer meeting on June 9. Peirone President and CEO, Mike Kamphaus, strives to help customers share the story behind locally grown produce with consumers in the Northwest.
“We started the Taste Local truck trailer campaign 3 years ago,” says Kamphaus. “We’re trying to drive awareness about the farmers who grow the food that our consumers are purchasing. We believe making this connection adds value to our partnerships with the 4 key players in produce: the grower, distributor, retailer, consumer.”
Two years into the campaign, Peirone was looking for a new face for the campaign and Kait Thornton’s name came up. Kait is the daughter of pear grower Geoff Thornton, and a young orchardist and “ag influencer” whose mission is to close the gap between producers and consumers through social media and education.
“From a farmer’s perspective, we admire Peirone’s willingness to invest in sharing the story to consumers about who and where their local produce comes from,” says Thornton. “It’s a great story for people to carry with them as they walk through the store. It doesn’t resonate with people the same way as when they can actually see the faces behind the products they’re buying, and that’s exactly what they’re seeing on the side of Peirone’s refrigerated trailers.”
Peirone operates under the core principles of the freshest top-quality products, competitive prices and a culture of treating employees, growers, and customers with respect and dignity according to Kamphaus. Approximately 10 times a year, Peirone invites 6 retailer groups that make up 95% of their product volume to communicate new items. These meetings are an effective tool for getting ideas out into the market quickly.
“Peirone can’t be the one to tell the story to consumers,” says Kamphaus. “We’re a wholesaler and distributor. The whole idea was to drive awareness in the stores that we service. To do this, we give retailers POS materials and encourage them to talk about growers in their stores during these summits. We want consumers to walk in the grocery store and see our signs telling them where their produce comes from in the Northwest.”
There’s no lack of research out there about consumers wanting to feel more connected to their farmers/growers according to Kamphaus. Since Peirone is a regional player, they feel they’re perfectly positioned to tell the story of northwest growers.
“I don’t know if you can measure this kind of thing, but we have 26 grower focused trailers on the road now,” says Kamphaus. “The benefit of Taste Local is how retailers help make connections with their shoppers. We think this differentiates Peirone because we want to be committed to the grower and have relationships with them. We can be a better partner to the grower through campaigns like this.”
Thornton said it was a “huge honor” to be on the Peirone Produce trucks and shared the event with her 350k+ followers in this TikTok and on Instagram. She was featured in a story by KREM 2, a CBS affiliate in Spokane, WA that included her engaging with the Peirone team as she saw her truck in person for the first time.