Panelist Rick Antle, chief executive officer and president of Tanimura & Antle, Salinas, Calif., correctly stated the plan hasn’t come close to majority support so far.
PBH had reported in June that the largest pool of people who were sent an electronic survey (about 45%) were unaware of the promotion board concept before the survey. (About 10% of the more than 3,000 people who received the survey responded.)
“Clearly, there is a lot more education and dialogue that needs to take place,” Klutes said.
A national promotion board would come at an estimated price tag of $30 million, making it a hot topic, particularly during a year marked by economic recession.
At another major industry conference in April (the United Fresh Produce Association convention in Las Vegas), growers and commodity commission leaders expressed reservations about a proposed national generic promotion board for fruits and vegetables, although attendance at the town-hall meeting was sparse.
As proposed, the plan would have generated about $30 million per year from mandatory assessments on first handlers and importers of fresh and most processed fruits and vegetables through a 0.046% assessment of the f.o.b. market value of all first handlers and importers.
In April, industry leaders had rallied support for the concept, although the idea hadn’t been pursued seriously in the past 20 years, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing for San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and outgoing chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
“We don’t just want people to be aware of the Fruits & Veggies — More Matters brand, but we are really asking for a change in behavior,” he said.
“If we want to see the dial go up, I think the industry has really got to step up and give the program the resources it needs to be effective,” Munger said.