A Produce Marketing Association task force has begun work on developing a licensing agreement and online tool kit to guide industry members in the use of “Sesame Street” characters in produce marketing.

A partnership with the nonprofit Sesame Workshop, Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association and Partnership for a Healthier America gives produce marketers royalty-free use of the Sesame Street characters and brand for two years after the program is operational. The partnership was announced Oct. 30 at a White House event with first lady Michelle Obama.

The task force has experts in licensing, marketing and social media and represents the spectrum of member companies from shippers to retailers, Tim Riley, PMA chairman of the board and president of Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles, said in a news release from PMA.

“I’m delighted that PMA’s new president Cathy Burns will be the staff lead for the group and that Jan DeLyser, PMA’s immediate past chairman of the board, will be serving on the task force to support task force chairman Todd Putman and his team,” Riley said in the release.

Former Food Lion president Cathy Burns will join PMA as president on Dec. 1.

The goal of the group is to encourage marketing innovation through the “Sesame Street” partnership in ways that will create fresh produce demand, Putman, chief marketing officer for Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., said in the release.

“The first order at hand is to create the most accessible process for companies who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity,” Putman said in the release.

After the program is operational— expected at the end of the first quarter of 2014 — Putman said PMA will begin to share some the results of the effort to increase per capita consumption.

Members of the task force are:


  • Chairman, Todd Putman, chief marketing officer, Bolthouse Farms;
  • Kevin Delaney, director of marketing, Procacci Bros.;
  • Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing, California Avocado Commission;
  • Susan Easley, innovation manager, Chiquita Brands International;
  • Dan’l Mackey-Almy, president and CEO, DMA Solutions Inc.;
  • Larry Maggio, director of marketing services, Schnuck Markets;
  • Erica Tickle, director organizational effectiveness, Wegmans Food Markets;
  • Nichole Towell, director of marketing, Duda Fresh Farms;
  • Kori Tuggle, director of marketing, Ocean Mist Farms;
  • Chris Veillon, director of marketing, Mastronardi;
  • Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing, Naturipe Farms; and
  • Joan Wickham, manager, advertising and public relations, Sunkist Growers.