(UPDATED COVERAGE Oct. 22) ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jeff Dunn, president and chief executive officer of Bolthouse Farms, has been named Produce Marketer of the Year by The Packer.
Editor Greg Johnson honored Dunn Oct. 19 at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit for his efforts to boost vegetable and fruit consumption by taking marketing cues from junk food and consumer packaged goods.
Dunn once presided over The Coca-Cola Co.’s North America and Latin America business, an experience recounted in part in Michael Moss’ book about the food giants, “Salt Sugar Fat.”
There he talked about being “positioned,” meaning loss of shelf space.
“He learned you’re either going forward or going backward,” Johnson said. “You’re never standing still.”
Dunn went on to draw the logical conclusions for marketing fresh produce after he came to Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bolthouse Farms in 2008.
“(Bolthouse) began to take on the potato chips of the world with its ‘Eat ‘em like junk food’ campaign for carrots four years ago,” Johnson said.
That approach evolved into the ShakeDowns line of packaged baby carrots. This year, for the start of school, the company launched seven products in its Kids snack line.
Dunn has brought the same way of thinking to the broader industry as a Produce Marketing Association board member and a leader of the Sesame Street Eat Brighter! campaign.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not really winning the battle against obesity,” Johnson said. “For some fruit and vegetable items consumption is up, but overall, consumers aren’t eating anywhere near as much of our products as they should and many aren’t eating as much as they once were.
"This year we’re honoring someone who’s making it his mission to change that," Johnson said. "And he’s doing it with a playbook we’re all familiar with, just not very often in our industry.”
On receiving the award, Dunn credited Bolthouse staff and customers and encouraged grower-shippers to join the Eat Brighter! campaign.
“If there’s a singular opportunity, it’s for us to spend as much time on the demand curve as we do on the supply curve,” Dunn said. “That’s really the mission. Can we create the same level of excitement for fruits and vegetables so many big brands have created for their own businesses over time? I know we can because we’re doing it.”
“I believe one thing more than anything else, that business is about people doing business with people,” he said. “This award is really about everybody in this room, our customers, my team at Bolthouse. We work so hard to bring amazing fresh produce to our customers every day.”