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CARLISLE, Pa. -- Giant Food Stores here has been named the PA Preferred program's first retailer of the year. Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff, whose department designed and created PA Preferred, presented the award to Jeff Martin, Giant's s.v.p., at the annual Farm Show Dinner, held Jan. 6 in the state capital, Harrisburg. The program helps Pennsylvania's small farmers and food processors grow their businesses.
"As one of the largest food retailers in the state, we embrace our responsibility to support the local economy and offer our customers the widest selection of locally grown products possible," said Martin in a statement. "The PA Preferred program strengthens the connection between the agricultural and retail industries so that every Pennsylvanian, from the grower to the customer, wins."
Giant acknowledged eight companies taking part in the program, each with products carried by the Northeast regional retailer: Reading-based Appeeling Fruit, Inc.; Lancaster-based Dutch Gold Honey, Inc.; Philadelphia-based Nature Soy, Inc.; Lancaster-based Original Pennsylvania Pickle, Inc.; Frackville-based Olde World Cheese Cake Co.; Bridgeport-based Steels Gourmet, Inc.; Palmyra-based Seltzers Smoke House Meats; and Lancaster-based Beanies of Lancaster.
The program features products with a blue and gold checkmark, indicating that they were grown or manufactured in Pennsylvania. To carry the PA Preferred brand, at least 60 percent of the raw product must be grown and harvested in the state. For items like chocolate, where some inputs are not available in state, 100 percent of the final manufacturing process and packaging must be done in Pennsylvania. Since the program's launch in January 2004, over 1,000 member locations have enrolled to date.
Giant operates 254 stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia under the Giant Food Stores, Tops Markets, and Martin's Food Markets banners. With nearly 37,000 full- and part-time associates, the company is the third-largest private sector employer in Pennsylvania.