New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that the Taste NY program has generated more than $1 million in sales for local farms and food and beverage businesses selling their products at the Western New York Welcome Center in Grand Island since its opening in 2018. Commissioner Ball made the announcement during his visit to the Welcome Center as part of the state’s year-long celebration of the Taste NY program’s 10th anniversary. The Taste NY Market at the Western New York Welcome Center, which is also celebrating a milestone of five years, has showcased products from over 200 farmers and food and beverage producers across the state, including 84 vendors from the Western New York region.
Commissioner Ball said, “Celebrating our Taste NY program’s 10th anniversary across the state has been a true highlight of 2023, and I’m excited to keep the festivities going at the Western New York Welcome Center today. The Welcome Center and Cornell Cooperative Extension Erie County staff are doing a tremendous job of connecting travelers, tourists, and residents to some of the best food and beverages from across the state. Thanks to their work, the Taste NY program has had a huge impact on our farmers and producers in this region, a true testament to the power of the program.”
Wednesday’s celebration at the Western New York Welcome Center brought together regional agricultural, tourism, and supporting partners to introduce visitors to the New York farmers and producers whose products are available at the Welcome Center. Producers providing samples at the event included Bittner Singer Orchards (Appleton, NY), Chenez’s Popcorn (Lockport, NY), Eden Valley Creamery (South Dayton, NY), Ganci’s BBQ Sauce (Buffalo, NY), Greek Goddess Products (Derby, NY), Herb’N Garden Farms (Grand Island, NY), Merle Maple Farm (Attica, NY), TopSeedz (Buffalo, NY), and Singer Farm Naturals (Appleton, NY). Additionally, the Welcome Center offered 10 percent off all purchases today and the chance to win a basket filled with local goodies in celebration of the 10-year milestone.
Managed by the New York State Thruway Authority, the Western New York Welcome Center has welcomed over 670,000 visitors through its doors since its opening in 2018 and the Taste NY Market at the Welcome Center, operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Erie County, has supported more than 200 vendors in bringing over 800 locally made products to market. More than 92,000 purchases have been made at the Taste NY Market, totaling more than $1 million in sales of local New York State made products. Additionally, the Market has created spotlights of 25 local vendors and shared their stories with the public, which can be viewed on their YouTube Channel.
Taste NY has grown significantly since its launch, bringing over $100 million in economic impact to New York State producers across the State over 10 years of the program. New York State products can now be found at nearly 70 locations across New York State, including the 11 regional Welcome Centers, airports, State parks, the Javits Center and more. Over the last decade, Taste NY has also partnered with sports venues, such as the MVP Arena (Albany) and the Blue Cross Arena (Rochester), and formed partnerships with high profile event organizers to bring Taste NY products to major sporting events such as the 2023 FISU World University Games, the Saratoga Race Course and the 2023 PGA Championship in Rochester.
Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Frank Hoare said, “The New York State Thruway is one of the largest footprints for Taste NY products across the state, with prominent displays featured at all 27 Thruway service areas and three Welcome Centers on the Thruway system. I would like to extend my congratulations to Commissioner Ball and the members of the Department of Ag and Markets and the Taste NY program for ten great years in New York State. We look forward to continuing our partnership to offer local products and promote services that help generate revenue for the local economy.”
Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Andy Turner said, “Cornell Cooperative Extension is proud to join the celebration as Taste NY turns 10. The program has successfully highlighted local farmers, artisans, and the vibrant local food and culinary scene in Buffalo and the surrounding region. CCE is looking forward to continuing this partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Markets to showcase the best of New York's agriculture and food economy.”
Molly Vigrass, Taste NY Market Manager at the Western New York Welcome Center said, “Here at the Western New York Welcome Center, our Taste NY Market staff and I work to support and showcase local and regional farm and food businesses and to create a unique experience for visitors, travelers, and area residents. We’ve been so lucky to be able to represent the small food and agriculture businesses of our area and those throughout New York State, and to witness the impact that the Taste NY program has had on our community since our Welcome Center opened five years ago. We’re proud to be a part of Taste NY and congratulate the program on 10 great years, and many more to come!”
Diane Held, Executive Director of CCE Erie County said, “Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County congratulates Taste NY on the 10-year anniversary! We are excited to celebrate at Taste NY at the WNY Welcome Center, and to feature the best of products from local farmers and food producers. Cheers to many more years of supporting our farmers and sharing their stories with the WNY community.”
Ari Sorbel, CEO for Herb’N Garden Farms, said, “Our relationship with Taste NY started through the Grand Island Farmers Market. When we opened our greenhouse operation last summer, Taste NY provided an outstanding retail showcase. Along with referrals from Molly and the Taste NY staff, this connected us to other key local businesses who are now purchasing greens and herbs from us as well. It’s been excellent for Herb’N Garden Farms.”
Commissioner Ball also recently announced that the Taste NY program is hosting two new social media contests to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program and promote New York State food, beverages, and agritourism during the holiday season. New Yorkers traveling across the state in November and December can participate in the contests for a chance to win prizes, including gift baskets filled with New York-made food, beverages, and gift items from each region of the state and gift cards to ShopTasteNY.com, the program’s e-commerce marketplace. Learn more about how to participate.
About Taste NY
Taste NY highlights the quality, diversity, and economic impact of food and beverages grown, produced, or processed in New York State. Taste NY aims to create new opportunities for producers through events, retail locations, and partnerships, such as at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse and the PGA Tournament in Rochester. Over the last 10 years, Taste NY has supported nearly 2,000 food and beverage producers participating in the program through retail outlets, events, and sponsorships. In 2022, 311 new producers were onboarded to the program through New York's Welcome Centers. Taste NY's food and beverage businesses also support the state's farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products.