One of Central Pennsylvania’s most recognizable retail brands now has its name on Pennsylvania’s biggest venue for agriculture.
Cumberland County-based Giant Food Stores today announced it has signed a multiyear naming-rights deal with the state Department of Agriculture for the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Expo Center’s Exposition Hall. The facility, which serves as the food court during the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in January, is now known as Giant Expo Hall.
The deal is $150,000 per year for three years, with options for two additional years at $175,000 per year.
Giant President Nicholas Bertram, who called this a special moment in Giant’s 95-year history, said the company sees the naming deal as a way to not only attract more customers to its stores but also to send a message to its agriculture partners across Pennsylvania.
That message: Giant is serious about agriculture and expanding its relationship with Pennsylvania food producers.
Part of the new Giant signage on the hall and in the rotunda of the farm show complex highlights the state’s PA Preferred program. PA Preferred was started in 2004 as a way to better promote food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania.
Giant now carries more than 100 PA Preferred brands in its stores and Bertram said the plan is to grow that number.
One of its partner brands is Buona Foods, a mushroom producer from Chester County. Buona has supplied mushrooms to Giant for 32 years, said President Gale Ferranto, who attended the farm show annoucement.
There are more than 50 family mushroom farms in Pennsylvania that produce more than 400 million pounds of mushrooms per year, including two-thirds of the white mushrooms consumed in the U.S. Mushrooms are a billion-dollar industry in Pennsylvania, Ferranto said.
The Middlesex Township-based supermarket chain is assuming the sponsorship from competitor Weis Markets, which sponsored the Exposition Hall for five years. In addition to the farm show complex, Giant has long been the sponsor of the Giant Center in Hershey. The company also is the official grocer sponsor of the Philadelphia Phillies.
For the farm show, the sponsorship funds help offset operational costs at the sprawling facility, said Sharon Myers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. It costs about $14 million per year to operate the nearly 1-million-square-foot complex, she said.
The complex receives about $5 million in state funds. The rest has to be made up by things like facility rentals, food and beverage sales and sponsorships.
Myers said about $300,000 is currently coming in from sponsorships.
The complex contributes an estimated $500 million in economic impact annually to the Harrisburg region through its more than 300 events and meetings each year. More than 1 million people are estimated to attend these events.
The annual farm show, which runs Jan. 5 to Jan. 12, is the biggest of those events, drawing several hundred thousand people during the week.