Georgia agriculture market experts discuss state of Atlanta market

03:38PM Jun 20, 2020
GA Ag video header BEST
Four people met on Zoom to discuss the Atlanta fresh produce market: Paul Thompson, director of marketing for Georgia Department of Agriculture (top left, then clockwise); Amy Sowder, Northeast editor of The Packer; Jeff Howard, markets manager for the State Farmers Market; and Terrell Davis, media specialist for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
( Amy Sowder )

Atlanta's fresh produce market leaders share how the Atlanta State Farmers Market has been transforming since, not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also beforehand.

Six sheds have converted into what is the largest addition since the market began in the 1950s, said Paul Thompson, director of marketing for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Even with the dearth of foodservice business since restaurants, schools and entertainment centers were forced to close, there's growth, said markets manager Jeff Howard.

On 150 acres in the Atlanta suburb of Forest Park, Ga., this place is still a major marketing hub and distribution point for fresh produce in the Southeast and throughout the country.

"The sheds here remain full," Howard said. Supply hasn't been a problem.

About 50 companies who do retail, foodservice and nursery business operate from warehouses with loading docks welcoming refrigerated semi-trucks.

And the department's marketing and communication teams have helped farmers connect directly with consumers in several ways, online and with a Georgia Grown To-Go program.

The program is basically a farmers market drive-thru, Thompson said.

"It's been going very well so far," he said.

Related news:

Video: How Baker Farms in Georgia is doing during 2020 high season

Atlanta remains mecca for foodservice, retail

Terminal market business booming

Georgia Department of Agriculture market experts discuss state of Atlanta market