New promotion plan would strengthen industry - The Packer

New promotion plan would strengthen industry

04/27/2009 08:54:08 AM
Tom Karst

“I think that social behavior is hard for us to change and we have to make our mark there,” Pepperl said. “There isn’t a program like this in the produce industry.”

Pepperl said behavior change programs can work, as evidenced by anti-drug campaigns.

“To bring it in to produce — could it be the silver bullet? I think so,” Pepperl said.

Munger, former chairman of PBH, made several strong points about the plan.

“We can’t rely on the government to try and advance the needle,” he said. “It is clear from 250 years of history that the government is much more interested in treatment than prevention.”

Munger’s concluding point was a strong one. If the industry doesn’t rise up and put together a generic promotion plan, there is nobody else — including the government — that will.

As Munger said, the PBH is the best thing the industry has ever had in promoting that message, but the organization struggles to change behavior on a national basis because of a budget that only tips the scale at $5 million.

“We know advertising works,” Munger said. “As a marketer, if we are committed to moving the needle and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, it is up to us as an industry to do it, because nobody else is going to do it for us.”

In my opinion, the industry may continue on its steady path without this plan, but clearly embracing a national generic promotion plan would be a show of strength and unity that would make fruit and vegetable growers and marketers stronger still.

A draft text of a proposed national leafy greens marketing agreement was circulated at the United Fresh show, so watch for more news on that front as the USDA prepares to publish a proposed rule. From the draft text, about the purposes of the plan:

“The purposes of this marketing agreement are: To provide a mechanism to enable leafy green handlers to organize; to enhance the quality of fresh leafy green vegetable products available in the marketplace through the application of good agricultural production and handling practices; to implement a uniform, auditable, science-based food quality enhancement program; to provide for USDA validation and verification of program compliance; to foster greater collaboration with local state and federal regulators; and to improve consumer confidence in leafy greens.”

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