As part of an effort to encourage more donations, the Produce for Better Health Foundation recognized Taylor Farms for its five-year commitment to contribute a total of $250,000.

The Hockessin, Del.-based foundation said in a news release that Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms Inc. joins other donors who are at or above the $50,000 per year contribution level. Those firms include Los Angeles-based Paramount Farms, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers and  Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta.

The foundation plans to announce the names of other companies increasing pledges to the in coming weeks in the hopes the desire to donate catches on.

PBH recognizes Taylor Farms for funding
PBH recognizes Taylor Farms for funding

“This is recognizing (the industry) needs to appreciate all that PBH currently does and that we are the only one really to be doing it,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, president of PBH. “We need to all get together and promote the same message of ‘More Matters.’”

Bruce Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of Taylor Farms, said discussions of the merits of a national promotion board for fruits and vegetables last year reaffirmed PBH’s mission.

“PBH, with their sole focus of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among Americans with their unifying message “Fruits and Veggies — More Matters”  are incredibly successful in working with retailers and foodservice operators to get maximum leverage from industry resources,” Taylor said in the release.

Pivonka said the foundation’s budget is about $4.1 million this year 2010, and she estimated between 400-500 companies contributed to the group.

Pivonka said some companies told her that the 2006 E. coli outbreak traced to spinach has increased expenses for food safety, traceability and other related areas.

“There isn’t as much money left, and that is one thing that has tapped the resources of the industry,” she said.

In addition, the economic downturn has cut donations.

She said the foundation downsized its staff and moved into less expensive office space last year to reduce expenses.

PBH would redouble efforts to reach out to groups such as physicians, pediatric professionals or other health-related groups to spread the More Matters message. In addition, Pivonka said PBH would like to invest in more consumer research.

Taylor Farms has a charitable history of funding industry initiatives.

In April 2007, the company pledged $2 million to the Center for Produce Safety.