Mike HornickPanelists at the Produce for Better Health Foundation's annual meeting were Terry Murphy (from left), produce procurement manage for Wakefern Food Corp.; Rich Dachman, vice president of produce, for Sysco Corp.; Barbara Ruhs, dietitian for Bashas' Family of Stores; Robert Post, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; and Roberta Cook, cooperative extension marketing economist at the University of California-Davis.During a panel discussion, Rich Dachman, vice president of produce at Sysco Corp., and Roberta Cook, cooperative extension marketing economist at the University of California-Davis, praised the California Avocado Commission as an example of an organization breaking through consumption barriers.
“Their consumption has gone up 10 times in the past decade,” Dachman said. “They have more fruit to sell but they’ve done a tremendous job of getting it in the mainstream. In today’s world, messaging is everything.
“When you’re bombarded by 100 little messages instead of two big ones, you’re not going to pay as much attention,” he said.
The commission’s example is not typical, Dachman said.
“The produce industry, we’re our own worst enemy,” he said. “I’ve got blueberries fighting against nectarines, and lettuce mix fighting against spinach. They’re all spending tons of money and they’re all doing it individually. The competition is the chip aisle, it’s not each other.”
“One of the problems in our industry is a decline in generic promotion,” she said. “As grower-shippers become larger, they have wanted to take dollars spent on generic marketing internal. They feel they can use it better within their company.
“But that’s not really what the results show us. The mandated programs are trying to expand the total pie,” Cook said. “Because they bring greater dollars together than an individual company can, they can invest in understanding consumers.”
In other annual meeting events at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, attendees probed the consumer mind through a panel of mothers and their children, and honored 47 role models and 22 champions for their support of More Matters.
Speakers included Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing.com; and Michael Sansolo, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute.