The kiwifruit marketing order, with its narrowly defined duties, has a mandated assessment of 3.5 cents per 19.8-pound volume fill.
When the commission was active, members paid a 10-cent assessment that covered all programs, Matteis said.
The committee has an 11-member board, including one public member and one alternate public member.
The commission left a gap that individual shippers and marketers are filling, said Doug Phillips, owner of Phillips Farms Marketing, Visalia, Calif.
A generic promotion campaign didn’t benefit bigger companies, which generated their own marketing programs anyway, said Dick Spezzano, owner of Spezzano Consulting Service, Monrovia, Calif.
“When you have a commission doing it, they don’t care whose kiwi you use, as long as it’s California, and it raises everybody’s boat if you buy from different people,” Spezzano said.
That makes sense for a small operation with little or no funding to develop a unique marketing program, but it created a situation where larger shippers were paying more than small ones, Spezzano said.
“Whenever you have a dominance of one or two growers, they see no reason to take money out of their pocket,” he said.
Tom Tjerandsen, managing director for North America with the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association in Sonoma, Calif., disagreed.
“It has steadily dropped downward,” Tjerandsen said of kiwifruit consumption after the commission’s disappearance.
There’s only one way to deal with that, said Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager with Madera, Calif.-based Stellar Distributing Inc.
“You do what you’re supposed to do — you get on the phone and promote it and sell the fruit,” he said.