Local business owners reap the benefits of NMDA’s Taste the Tradition program
Written by Kristie Garcia
Debi Bartucci believes New Mexicans are great about supporting local businesses. The president of Statewide Products in Albuquerque says the New Mexico–Taste the Tradition program has helped the company–established in 1968–gain exposure for local New Mexico products.
The program was developed by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture in 2000. NMDA marketing staff found that strong traditions formed a common thread among all New Mexico agricultural products. Whether it’s green chile beef jerky, wine, cheese, a blanket woven with New Mexico-grown wool, or seed stock from a New Mexico cattle ranch, all agricultural products have a history steeped in family traditions worth celebrating. These traditions are what led NMDA to create the New Mexico–Taste the Tradition and New Mexico–Grown with Tradition program.
“We wanted to identify these unique, tradition-rich products grown or produced in New Mexico,” says New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte. “Whether sold in the state, across the nation or globally, the New Mexico Taste the Tradition logo lets consumers know that they are purchasing an authentic New Mexico product.”
Debi says NMDA has targeted events that help expose the local products her company represents. “It’s all about exposure and getting our products in front of consumers,” she explains. “In fact, 2017 was our best year at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, and we did over $4,000 in sales at HomeGrown in Las Cruces.”
The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum and NMDA team up to bring the HomeGrown event to the museum each November. More than 100 growers, companies, and individuals from around the state sell and sample their home-grown and made New Mexico products at the two-day event.
Sherrill Lopez with Jesusita’s Salsa Fresca in Cimarron agrees with Debi about the state fair and HomeGrown event. “Taste the Tradition has helped a lot,” she notes. “We’ve participated in the HomeGrown event the past three years, which has helped our business tremendously, including increasing sales every year. The Battle of the Salsas competition and the New Mexico State Fair Country Store has been a big help as well. Our salsa took third place in the 2017 competition.”
As part of the membership–which is free–New Mexico businesses have access to official logos and assistance with marketing. The main intent of the logos is to promote New Mexico companies’ products and to identify them as grown or made in the state.
Several Taste the Tradition program members agree that one of the greatest benefits is the support they receive from the NMDA marketing staff. “The most important thing is the cooperative advertising funding, displays, demonstrations and overall support,” says Debi. “All the people with Taste the Tradition at NMDA are great to work with, and they are very supportive.”
Rachel Schneider, owner of Ol’ Gringo Chile Company in Las Cruces, said the great thing about being a member of the program is that there’s a team of people willing to help out. “Everyone is willing to share their knowledge and help your business get to another level,” Rachel says. “They’re an incredible resource.”
Both Statewide Products and The Truck Farm have been members of the program since its inception in 2000. The Truck Farm–based in Las Cruces–uses the Taste the Tradition logo on all of its labels. The Truck Farm’s Justin Hawman, said he would definitely recommend becoming a member to other New Mexico businesses.
“Taste the Tradition has helped with our marketing efforts, and the logo creates a brand that New Mexico companies can be a part of,” Justin says. “And participating in HomeGrown has led to phone calls and people stopping in the store.”
Anna Shawver of Apple Canyon Gourmet has been a member of the program since 2002. “The Taste the Tradition program contributed to the growth of our business, mainly through trade show opportunities and advertisement funding,” she explains. “We participated in HomeGrown through our distributor, Southwest Wines and Spirits. Shows always provide a way to get product into people’s hands, so that always helps.”
The impact of the program crosses state lines, as well. Diane Porras, of Ositos Biscochitos in Las Cruces, said her products have received exposure in places as far as the northeastern part of the country. “Thanks to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, our biscochitos were sent to various functions in Washington, D.C. and the Governor’s Ball in New York,” says Diane, who is also pleased with the outcome at HomeGrown.
“The event has been a booster for our biscochitos, Mexican wedding cakes and empanadas,” she says. “People in the community always ask us if we are going to repeat as vendors at the event, and we encourage them to come and try all New Mexico products. Every year our sales have grown at this event, and our customers come from all over New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.”
To inquire about eligibility and membership benefits, email the NMDA Marketing and Development Division at:
email@example.com or call 575-646-4929.