Marketers carry on without commission - The Packer

Marketers carry on without commission

09/21/2012 01:10:00 PM
Jim Offner

Generic promotions of California kiwifruit disappeared last year when members voted the Sacramento-based California Kiwifruit Commission out of existence.

All that was left was a federal marketing order, the Kiwifruit Administrative Committee, also based in California’s capital.

The committee doesn’t do promotions. It exists to ensure grade standards are followed, as well as compile statistical information and track crop estimates.

Nick Matteis, assistant director for the committee, said he can’t even speak for the committee but only from the perspective as an industry member and former employee of the commission.

From that perspective, he said, there is hope that some of the commission’s old functions will return.

The committee is attempting to get the rules changed to allow it to do some work in marketing and/or research, he said.

“The commission specifically was set up to handle those generic promotions and marketing efforts and coordinate research projects, so without it, we don’t have the same kind of opportunities to do outreach to the trade media as we had before,” Matteis said.

Generic promotions are not on the radar because there is no industry representative that collects assessments required to carry on that activity, he said.

“On top of that, there’s no opportunity for an industry representative group to perform research on behalf of the industry at this point, either,” he said.

Any change in the rules would have to come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the agency has not made any decision on the matter, Matteis said.

California growers also no longer have any collective representation in the world market, since the commission participated in the International Kiwifruit Organization.

There is an effort among a number of industry participants to remedy that situation by forming a group called the California Kiwifruit Organization, to serve as host group for a meeting of the International Kiwifruit Organization in September in Healdsburg, Calif., Matteis said.

“Industry folks have pulled their resources together and formed a group to at least host a conference and perhaps to keep ongoing representation of the industry on the international level ongoing,” he said.

The committee has no relationship to this group, he said.

The committee’s chief executive, Chris Zanobini, heads up an umbrella organization called Ag Association Management Services Inc., which handles management for various boards, commissions and agriculture trade associations in California, Matteis said.

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