Industry not feeling charitable for promotion board - The Packer

Industry not feeling charitable for promotion board

11/10/2009 04:07:05 PM
Tom Karst

 When you read that sentence, you know what is coming next, and it isn’t pretty.

Here are more questions that confront the industry:

How much will the PBH voluntary campaign be hurt? Given the fact that industry support has been uneven already, this is difficult to say.

The Perishable Pundit said this on June 4:

"Look, charity is charity and many in the industry support PBH when they have funds available to do so. We suspect that a completely different mindset — one rigorously focused on maximizing return on investment — will be applied to a mandatory program, which means they have to pay whether they have spare cash or not."

Thinking of the role of PBH as a “charity” may represent the core of the problem that industry-wide generic promotion efforts face. PBH If voluntary donations to PBH are considered more charity than an investment in building demand, then industry belief in the value of generic promotion and the work of PBH is weak indeed.

Another question; does the fresh produce industry believe in generic promotion?

Some among us most assuredly do. The Hass Avocado Board alone took in nearly $28 million in assessments in the 14-month period ending Dec. 31 of last year, using those funds largely to fuel avocado demand in the U.S. Whether the industry believes in collective generic promotion is the real question, and that answer appears to be “not much.” The net result is that fresh produce marketers are fighting among themselves for “share of stomach” rather than building overall demand. And that’s disheartening.

Did PMA, United and other trade groups miss a “rising tide lifts all boats” opportunity to elevate the industry’s profile by failing to lend vocal support to the concept?
 I think both United and PMA boards could have advocated on behalf of the promotion board and it would have made a difference.
 In fact, just two individuals acting in concert arguably could have created a successful outcome for the promotion board.
In Bryan Silbermann and Tom Stenzel we have the twin pillars of industry expertise, knowledge and strategic thinking. Stenzel led the way toward the industry’s unprecedented request for strong federal oversight of produce safety and Silbermann has been a key voice in convincing the industry of the value of the not inexpensive Produce Traceability Initiative. Tell me that a national promotion board was beyond their powers of persuasion and I’d beg to differ.

Well, all that is water under the bridge for now.

Perhaps the focus on building consumption will return with force to the industry’s forefront in a few years, when the issues of food safety and traceability have been dealt with decisively.

Perhaps then the industry will be more “charitable” toward the concept of mandatory generic promotion.

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