Generic promotion plan shouldn't be shelved just yet - The Packer

Generic promotion plan shouldn't be shelved just yet

10/16/2009 12:15:00 PM
Tom Karst

Moderating the Oct. 3 Fresh Summit town hall meeting on the proposed national generic promotion plan left me with the impression that the quietly simmering issue still isn’t settled just yet.

Tom Karst
National Editor

There are critics and opponents of the plan, to be sure.

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.

Is it time to pull the plug on the idea? I don’t think so.

I asked Paul Klutes, director of brand sales for C.H. Robinson Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., about what “failure” would look like in respect to the discussion of the promotion board.

“I think that failure would be failure to put forward the best thinking and failure to have an informed audience that could vote on it,” he said.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation 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, suggesting the plan could be altered as discussions proceed.

Just how the dialogue will continue — and who will sponsor the discussion — hasn’t yet been made clear by the Produce for Better Health executive committee.

One of the predictable yet somewhat disconcerting consequences of the debate over the concept of a national promotion board for fruits and vegetables has been soul-searching about the effectiveness of the foundation’s efforts since its inception in 1991.

In the process of evaluating whether a $30 million promotion board concept should receive industry approval, there have been open questions about whether all the toil and effort of PBH has accomplished anything.

After all, some point to reports such as the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that states that less than 10% of U.S. high school students are eating the combined recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.

According to the USDA, fruit and vegetable consumption (both fresh and processed) hasn’t increased significantly since PBH began its mission.

Yet is precisely news like this that should cause the industry to rally for better-funded promotion efforts. It is well documented that the tens of millions spent by other commodity boards dwarfs the modest voluntary industry donations that PBH has received.

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