Central Market has been named a Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The Detroit Lakes-based grocery store, which has a second location in Perham, was recognized for its promotion of local farms and locally-grown produce and other products. It was one of seven groceries from around the state to receive the recognition, given in conjunction with the Minnesota Grocers Association.

Winners were selected from a pool of nominees, with one winner for each of six different regions of Minnesota; a People’s Choice Award recipient was also named. Central Market was the recipient for the Northwest region.

“It’s an honor,” said longtime Central Market Produce Manager Greg Severson. “We pride ourselves on working with our local growers as much as possible. If there’s local product available, we’re going to get it.”

General Manager Dan Neumeister said Central Market gets a lot of its corn, pumpkins and summer produce from farms in the Frazee area, but there are multiple products the store sells that come from all over Minnesota.

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“We try to promote Minnesota companies,” he said. “That way, the money stays in the state as much as possible, and it employs local people and creates jobs.”

Central Market Produce Manager Greg Severson, pictured here in the produce department at the Detroit Lakes store on April 5, 2021, has worked in produce since 1988, and has been with Central Market since 1999. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)
Central Market Produce Manager Greg Severson, pictured here in the produce department at the Detroit Lakes store on April 5, 2021, has worked in produce since 1988, and has been with Central Market since 1999. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)

Recipients were selected by judges based on several factors – including the number of Minnesota Grown farms and products that the retailer carried, as well as how the retailer used ads, displays, social media and other events to promote Minnesota Grown items to customers.

Six Minnesota farms were named as part of Central Market’s award nomination, which was submitted by their distributor, Russ Davis Wholesale. Those farms include Vine Valley Farms, Costa Farms, Ed Field and Sons and others.

The nomination noted Central Market’s weeklong promotion last summer that spotlighted local produce at its Detroit Lakes store. A 12-foot display featured three different Minnesota Grown signs, bushel baskets, wood crates and corn stalks to give it a “local” feel, according to Helen Schnoes, a regional marketing specialist with the state ag department.

“Grocers are essential to the communities they serve and are proud to support our local partners – farm to fork,” said Minnesota Grocers Association President Jamie Pfuhl in a recent press release. “The success of the Minnesota Grown program is driven by the exceptional efforts of all in the food industry.”

Winners were announced at a Minnesota Grocers Association webinar in March, and will receive a commemorative plaque and exclusive rights to use the “Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year 2021” logo in their ads and displays.

Other 2021 regional winners include: Chris’ Food Center in Sandstone (Northeast region), Lunds & Byerlys in St. Cloud (West Central), Jim’s Market in Canby (Southwest), Fiesta Foods in Lake City (Southeast), and Kowalski’s Market in Oak Park Heights (Twin Cities). Cub Foods of Burnsville received the People’s Choice Award for best display, as determined by an online social media contest.

The Minnesota Grown program is a statewide partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota producers of specialty crops and livestock. It was created over 30 years ago.