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New Mexico Tourism Department to ‘certify’ certain products

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The New Mexico True Certified Program allows businesses that grow, raise and manufacture products in the state to use the “certified” brand on their packaging and marketing materials. (Courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The agency that sells New Mexico to tourists has a new idea that could also help sell the state’s salsas, soaps and more.

The New Mexico Tourism Department on Tuesday launched the New Mexico True Certified Program, enabling in-state businesses to distinguish products from the Land of Enchantment with a special mark. Officials say it allows producers to tap into the increasingly recognizable New Mexico True brand — one backed by nearly $30 million in state advertising dollars since 2012 — while also potentially boosting tourism among the products’ existing fan bases.

“It provides a platform for businesses (with) products that are made, grown or born and raised in New Mexico to leverage consumer awareness of the New Mexico True brand,” Tourism Secretary Rebecca Latham said in an interview Tuesday, adding that the benefits go both ways. “For us to be able to capitalize on the popularity of chile right now and our craft beer industry — it’s definitely mutually beneficial in driving impressions and creating a competitive advantage.”

Companies must apply and meet certain criteria to participate. They must be New Mexico licensed companies and the products have to be “made” in the state (like wine or lotion), come from animals “born and raised” in the state (like dairy, meat or wool) or have been grown in New Mexico (such as vegetables and herbs).

Those accepted into the program get access to the brand for use in packaging, marketing materials or even menus.

The Tourism Department intends to promote the program via multiple channels, including social media and advertising. Accepted products could be featured in New Mexico Magazine or on New Mexico True Television.

In addition, the state plans to launch an ecommerce site for the program this fall and is considering an associated expo event.

Latham said the department talked to numerous businesses while developing the program and said it fulfills a need that many of them share.

“There’s so much involved in licensing and manufacturing of their products that they feel unprepared to actually market them,” she said. “Luckily marketing is something we do unbelievably well.”

Santa Fe Brewing Co. owner Brian Lock said Tuesday he was intrigued by the program and would consider incorporating the mark on his beers, which are sold in nine different states.

“It makes sense,” he said. “I fully support the idea.”

He did, however, note that it could get costly. While the state describes the program as free, Lock said it would likely cost as much as $25,000 in new plates to incorporate the brand on his 10 different beer cans.

Latham said the state is not currently able to help individual businesses cover costs but does have strategies for helping companies implement the brand without significant expense. She said it could be as simple as using stickers until the company is ready to overhaul its packaging process.

For more information, including an application, go online to www.nmtourism.org/truecertified.

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