(June 12, 2:22 p.m.) A coalition of European government and produce industry factions has launched a strategic campaign aimed at securing a larger share of the U.S. domestic food market.

Named the European Flavors Initiative, the effort is designed to encourage U.S. shoppers to buy fresh and processed fruits and vegetables grown in Europe, said Simon Barks, marketing manager for Conserve Italia International, a cooperative that represents 17,500 European growers.

Funded by the European Union, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and grower-shippers, the multimillion dollar initiative is scheduled to be a three-year campaign also targeting Russia and Japan, Barks said. Among the brands the European Flavors Initiative features: Cirio, Conserve Italia and Orogel, Barks said.

The European Flavors Initiative made its U.S. debut at the Food Marketing Institute’s Show in Las Vegas in early May. Its next appearance will be at the New York City-based National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s Summer Fancy Food Show June 29-July 1, Barks said. Following that event, a series of news conferences and in-store demonstrations is scheduled. Those events will center on California, he said.

The coalition has established a Web site, www.europeanflavors.eu.

“It is clear the products will require premium price positioning,” Barks said.

He said the cost of transportation and current exchange rates will force higher prices than retailers charge for comparable products produced domestically.

“For those Americans who want the taste of Europe, this is a way to get it,” Barks said.

The European produce, fresh and processed, is different and reflects different gastronomic traditions, he said. While the initiative will target other countries, the brass ring is the West.

“The U.S. is the priority country for the European Flavors project,” Barks said.

The European Flavors campaign will be the focus of a booth at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit, Oct. 24-27, Orlando, Fla., he said.