Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced Taste NY sales continued to increase in 2017, growing to a record $16.1 million. Total gross sales of New York products from Taste NY stores, cafés, bars, concessions and events topped last year's sales totals by $3 million. The significant year-over-year growth reflects increasing consumer demand for local food and beverage products, which supports New York's agricultural and tourism industries.
"Taste NY has put local products on the map, boosting tourism, helping local craft breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries grow, and increasing opportunities for producers in every corner of this great state," Governor Cuomo said. "By connecting consumers across the globe with fresh, locally-grown products, Taste NY continues to support the growth of farms and small businesses across New York."
The Taste NY initiative has seen steady growth and recognition since it was created in 2013. The program reported sales of $1.5 million in 2014, tripled those figures to $4.5 million in 2015, and $13.1 million in 2016. The exposure from Taste NY has helped the farms and companies participating in the program to reach more customers, increase online sales, and, in many cases, expand the processing capacity of their business. Taste NY's food and beverage businesses also support the State's farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products.
In the past year, Taste NY made products available at 13 new locations and participated in major, large events, such as The Northern Trust and the New York City Marathon. As part of Governor Cuomo's vision to construct a state-of-the-art Welcome Center in each region of the state, Taste NY is promoting local products at the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, New York City, and Central New York Welcome Centers, in addition to the Long Island Welcome Center that opened in 2016.
In 2017, Taste NY opened concessions in six additional state parks, bringing high-quality New York food and beverage products to park visitors. Guests can now find New York made food and drinks at a total of 10 properties, including Olana State Historic Site, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Jones Beach State Park, and Niagara Falls State Park. Together, parks selling local Taste NY food and beverages draw nearly 30 million visitors annually. In addition, last year, Taste NY launched the state's first-ever Taste NY Craft Beverage Week in New York City, hosted the Taste NY Craft Beer Challenge with celebrity and professional judges, and held the Taste NY Food Truck Competition and first-annual Craft Beer Competition at the Great New York State Fair.
To build on the success of 2017 and further connect New York producers to new markets, Governor Cuomo's 2018-2019 Executive Budget proposes additional support for Taste NY. This year, the Department of Agriculture and Markets will identify ten core food and beverage categories that will be highlighted in New York's regional Welcome Centers to further strengthen Taste NY branding and tell the exciting stories behind New York's businesses. The Department will also coordinate with other state agencies on possible new Taste NY locations as infrastructure projects are developed across the state, including the reconstruction of train stations and airports
Additionally, the Department of Agriculture and Markets will host five regional Business-to-Business Taste NY Networking events to connect New York farms, food and beverage businesses with buyers from institutions, retail locations, restaurants, bars, and distributors.
The Taste NY website, www.taste.ny.gov, will also be transformed to operate as a one-stop resource for residents, visitors, and businesses. The website's presentation, functionality and resources will be improved to provide better information on New York's agri-tourism destinations and better connect New York's producers to new markets.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Taste NY continues to bring unprecedented exposure to New York's farmers and food and beverage companies that are creating great eats for consumers around the globe. We're proud of the success of our Taste NY vendors, our stores and operators, and our partners who have helped to bring the Governor's vision for a buy-local program to a new level. We look forward to the continued growth of the program as we work on new ventures this year."
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Governor Cuomo's Taste NY initiative continues to promote awareness of New York State-made products, encouraging residents and visitors alike to support our world-class food and beverage producers."
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, As the demand for locally grown food and products continues to skyrocket, we are seeing how 'eating local' benefits both New York's economy and our hardworking farmers. The ability to strengthen and find new markets for local products is what will help to ensure the continued success of New York's agriculture industry. I have been proud to support efforts that help promote local foods and would like to thank the Governor and Commissioner Ball for their continued work to move our state's leading industry forward."
Senator Rich Funke, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation said, "Taste NY is a key component to our booming tourism economy by exposing visitors to the variety of tastes and flavors our great state has to offer. I believe New York State not only has some of the best attractions, but some of the best offerings from our local agriculture, whether it be cheese or yogurt, or a beverage from any of the wineries, breweries, cideries or distilleries in our growing craft industry. As a proud supporter of Taste NY products, it comes as no surprise to me that sales of Taste NY products are on the rise. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to promote this program as a part of New York's growing tourism economy."
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, "Expanded marketing strategies and diversified locations for Taste NY outlets are paying off as consumers show their appreciation by taking advantage of the availability and convenience of top quality, locally grown New York State products. Building on the continued success of the Taste NY program will further promote products into new markets, benefitting agricultural producers and distributers as well as consumers."
Assembly Member Daniel J. O'Donnell, Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development said, "Taste NY makes it easier than ever before to enjoy the great food and beverage products made in NY. Taste NY helps New Yorker's discover products crafted with the best ingredients from our best farmers. I hope to see this program - and the economic impact it has - grow exponentially."
Dr. Chris Watkins, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, said, "Cornell Cooperative Extension and Taste NY share a mission to support New York State agriculture and ensure consumer access to world-class, locally grown and produced food, beverage, and specialty products. This partnership has provided a broad range of comprehensive educational opportunities for CCE to work closely with producers from effective production on the farm to successful planning for the market shelf. Through a close working relationship with producers and Taste NY, CCE can connect with agricultural producers to extend Cornell University research from farm to market."
Mary Molina, Owner, Lola Granola Bar, said, "The Taste NY program has increased exposure to our brand during Taste NY sponsored events where we give out samples or sell products, and in turn increased our online sales. Additionally, the Taste NY program has helped connect our brand with catering companies looking for local NYS food companies. We have made several long-lasting business relationships because of the Taste NY program."
H. William Michaels, Vice President & Co-Owner, Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard, Inc., and President of the Cooperstown Beverage Trail Association, said, "The Taste NY program bolsters our on-going marketing and helps drive visitors to our Cider Mill & Orchard. Connecting with consumers interested in locally produced products through the Taste NY program is extremely important to our success and the success of all the members of the Cooperstown Beverage Trail Association."
Rick Tietjen, Chief of Staff of The Culinary Institute of America, said, "Supporting New York State's farmers and food and beverage industry has long been part of the college's practices. The CIA is proud to use so many quality New York State products from the farm to the table in our teaching kitchens, on-campus restaurants serving over 200,000 guests a year, special dining events and food enthusiasts and professional chefs programs."
Andri Goncarovs and Dorothy Poppleton, Owners, Finger Lakes Harvest, said, "Our first exposure to Taste NY was at the Speidie Festival in Binghamton this past summer, and then later, we were invited to take part in the program in two of the Taste NY stores in Broome County. Because of the product exposure and affiliation with a well marketed effort by New York State, we were able sell product and also leverage a familiar image that helped establish new retail accounts. We now sell at 24 retail stores, 8 farmers markets and attend over 20 wine and food shows in New York during the year!"
Dave Omim, Director of Operations, Bobby Sue's Nuts, said, "Taste NY has had a tremendously positive impact on BobbySue's Nuts as the program continues to highlight our delicious, locally-made, healthy snacks in some of New York's most visible landmarks and acclaimed events. From the PGA's Northern Trust Golf Tournament and Westchester's Food and Wine Festival to Grand Central Station, LaGuardia and JFK airports, in addition to a number of specialty retail markets, Taste NY has been instrumental in helping us introduce our innovative products to New York residents and visitors alike."
Bethany DiSanto, General Manager of the NY Wine & Culinary Center, said, "From the Restaurant to the Hands On Kitchen, we feature the best flavors New York has to offer. We are proud to showcase the Taste NY label because it fortifies the quality of our product. Our guests come to the NYWCC knowing they can enjoy the best of NYS in one place."
For more information about Taste NY, please visit www.taste.ny.gov. Connect with Taste NY through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.