The impact of the California drought continues to draw widespread media attention, with no break in the drought and long-term implications as grave as ever. Perhaps the best hope is that El Nino weather pattern helps deliver serious rain over the winter.

But the latest USDA ERS food price forecast saw no discernible effect from the drought so far, though higher citrus prices tied to the citrus greening disease in Florida and winter frosts in California prodded fresh fruit inflation higher.

Rick Eastes, California-based marketing consultant of Rixx International Marketing Co. Inc., said in a recent e-mail that, despite the drought, the grape crop in California won’t be shortchanged in California this year.

Eastes said:

Thank goodness for an extra-early season. There were perhaps an additional 2 weeks to ship and sell the extra million Coachella, and 2.2 million Mexican grapes which would have made a normal harvest season ‘very crowded’.

If the San Joaquin table grape crop is as large, percentage wise, and weather permits them to harvest up to November 1st, they will blow right past last year’s 118 million 19 lb. box equivalent crop.

TK: With the early start to the San Joaquin Valley harvest, we’ll be keeping our ears open for more reports about the quality effects of drought and weather on the 2014 grape season. Volume won’t apparently be hurt.

 

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 I received a thoughtful note from John Sauve, managing partner of the Food & Wellness Group when I was out last week.

 Here is an excerpt from John:

Enjoyed your piece on produce playing it’s natural advantage card... health. Especially liked the very last sentence: With one voice, the industry should be promoting the extensive and continuing evidence of the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, regardless of the source.

 As you know, David and I (Food and Wellness Group) have long professed a similar generic marketing point of view…position and leverage on a the differentiating and compelling health dimension…and you have published a few articles from us on that topic over the years, including this one

The Colors of Health, our new initiative still in development, is right on target with the theme of your piece. The natural colors (phytochemicals) and five color groupings of produce (created by us in 2002)

provide a natural health and variety communication strategy…a naturally endowed and differentiating gift from Mother Nature. http://colorsofhealth.com/

We have preached health and color as the drivers for many years…the only ones doing so. David and I are The Health and Color Guys who keep plugging away at the consumption challenge from a generic marketing perspective.

 

TK: Thanks to John for his thoughts. It is easy to be impressed with his passion for the fledgling Colors of Health campaign. Should generic promotion be focused on color and nutrition?

A recent study from the University of Alabama Birmingham revealed that greater consumption  of fruits and vegetables doesn’t translate to weight loss.

 From a news release about the study:

While Kaiser recognizes the importance of eating fruits and vegetables for their many other health benefits, expectations for weight loss should be kept in check.

“People make the assumption that higher-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables will displace the less healthy foods, and that’s a mechanism to lose weight; but our findings from the best available evidence show that effect doesn’t seem to be present among people simply instructed to increase fruit and vegetable intake.”

“In the overall context of a healthy diet, energy reduction is the way to help lose weight, so to reduce weight you have to reduce caloric intake,” Kaiser said. “People make the assumption that higher-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables will displace the less healthy foods, and that’s a mechanism to lose weight; but our findings from the best available evidence show that effect doesn’t seem to be present among people simply instructed to increase fruit and vegetable intake.”

“In public health, we want to send positive and encouraging messages and telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables seems far more positive and encouraging than just saying ‘eat less.’ Unfortunately, it seems that if we just get people to eat more fruits and vegetables without also taking explicit steps to reduce total food intake, lower weights are not achieved,” said senior author, David B. Allison, Ph.D., associate dean for science in the UAB School of Public Health.

Because this recommendation is so widely shared, Kaiser believes these results should bring change to public health messaging.

TK: Given the research's assertion - more fruits and veggies don’t “matter” when it comes to weight loss, all other food intake being equal - does the industry need to change its “more matters” mantra from PBH and find another, high-clarity message?

PBH really hasn’t leaned on the diet message in its PBH communications, so that response might be an overreaction. But for the millions of consumers looking to shed pounds, the “more matters” message is only half helpful.