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Memo From NYSRA: Governor’s TasteNY Program Gains Traction

Posted on  | December 19, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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The NYS Restaurant Association has been actively involved with Gov. Cuomo’s TasteNY initiative. Just over a year ago the Association helped the Governor kick off his Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit and then participated in his Wine Cup Tour this past August. The Association has been actively encouraging members to sign the TasteNY pledge through events, such as a recent panel discussion hosted by the NYC chapter that focused on the importance of sourcing local products.

But there is more happening to promote New York State as a leading hub for beer, wine, spirits, cider production and tourism. The NYS Restaurant Association joined several New York State farmers, brewers and distillers, along with agency Commissioners, Executives and Governor’s staff for the Farm Based Beverage Council Meeting as a follow up to the NYS Wine, Beer and Distilled Spirits Summit. The Council reviewed the past year’s progress on the promotion, regulatory and statutory fronts in the farm beverage industry and the Governor’s TasteNY initiative.

Attendees discussed current business ventures, issues and opportunities along with additional efforts to advance and expand promotion of local NY food businesses throughout the state in 2013. One important decision made is that Cider has now been added to the Wine, Beer, and Distilled Spirits group.

Melissa Autilio Fleischut, President and CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association stated, “There have been many regulatory changes to get people involved in farm distilleries with the hopes to get people to use more NY products and to create more jobs in the agriculture, spirits and retail industries. We are very pleased to be assisting Governor Cuomo and the state’s local purveyors in advancing this effort.”

Local Pride

Another successful initiative from 2013 is the Pride of NY Pledge, which aims to get NY restaurateurs and chefs to pledge to use 10% more NY State products on their menus: ingredients, spirits, etc. Research shows that consumers want more local options and it’s a trend that is well received. Over 80 NYS Restaurant Association members have taken the pledge and everyone on the Council is encouraged that the restaurant industry is using local products. All pledge participants will be featured on the TasteNY website (taste.ny.gov) going forward.

They also reviewed next steps to further the industry by reviewing longer-term plans for 2014 with regard to several new efforts: new advertising campaigns, events, retail store openings, TasteNY destinations, restaurant and liquor store initiatives, the Beverage Trail initiative, and business climate initiatives including agricultural law changes.

There are future plans for retail stores in airports—including Buffalo and Islip, which will sell all New York State products. The big sellers at these stores are drinkable yogurt and chocolate milk. “The purpose of the retail stores is to offer consumers at the airports New York products and to expand our local market to more people and get a sense of what NY is all about,” stated Fleischut. The council also revealed plans to create a rest stop on the Taconic Parkway in a historic building, also offering NY local products.

More to Come

The meeting included significant discussion around research and farming with a particular focus on the role of Cornell University, a leader in research on these issues, as well as exploring more ways to increase hop, barley and malt production in New York and help farmers learn to grow and sell grains more efficiently.

The Annual International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York is partnering with Pride of NY and NY Wine and Grape Foundation with plans to include over 50 booths showcasing all local New York state products and purveyors. They will be inviting representatives from NY breweries, cider mills and distilleries to participate at the booths in the March 2nd-4th, 2014 show.

There have been some favorable agricultural law changes happening for local producers for increasing growth and sales to the state. In the past, distilleries could not produce beer and spirits in the same building, but restrictions on that have been eased going forward. Hops have also been included in the definition of “agricultural, commodity” and there is a new real property tax exemption for trellises.


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