FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2007

ILLINOIS PRODUCTS GIFT BASKETS AND GIFT SETS: A CREATIVE OPTION FOR YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING LIST
IDOA web-based "Food and Agribusiness Guide" makes identifying Illinois products even easier

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Ė Holiday shoppers looking for a creative gift idea may want to consider purchasing an Illinois products gift basket or gift set, Illinois Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has developed a web-based "Food and Agribusiness Guide" that lists companies that either produce, process and package food in Illinois or are headquartered here. The website divides the companies into more than two dozen categories based on their product offerings. Consumers can find more than 130 Illinois food companies listed on the site that offer gift baskets or gift sets.

"We have been able to utilize technology in a way that increases the market potential for Illinois food companies," Hartke said. "The online Food and Agribusiness Guide not only gives consumers access to the websites and product information of more than 1,250 Illinois companies, but also increases the exposure of Illinois businesses on the internet. Itís a great marketing tool."

According to Rockville, Md.-based MarketResearch.com, sales of food gifts grew almost 50 percent to nearly $16 billion from 2004 to 2006, even though Americans were spending less money overall on presents. In addition, nearly one-third of consumers shop for food gifts during the winter holidays, making it a popular choice for holiday shoppers.

Individuals can access the "Illinois Food and Agribusiness Guide" by visiting the departmentís website at www.agr.state.il.us and then clicking on the blue rectangular box on the right side of the page entitled "Illinois Food and Agribusiness Guide." The "Gift Baskets/Gift Sets" category can be found in the bottom, right hand corner of the page.

Consumers who are interested in Illinois food products also might want to make plans to visit the Illinois Products Expo, March 1-2, 2008, on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Over sixty Illinois food companies and approximately ten Illinois wineries will provide samples to visitors during the two-day expo and most of the products also will be available to purchase.  This year will mark the tenth anniversary of the event.

For more information about the Products Expo, contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau of Marketing and Promotion at (217) 524-3012 or send an e-mail to larry.aldag@illinois.gov .

Related Links:
GIFT BASKETS / GIFT ITEMS
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