The Packer’s National Editor Tom Karst chatted on April 11 with Chris Zanobini, executive director of the California Pear Advisory Board. Read the entire chat on the Fresh Talk blog.

9:05 a.m. Tom Karst: As your organization has gone through changes, do you feel you have got the message out to the trade about what to expect from the board this year?

Q&A | Chris Zanobini, California Pear Advisory Board


9:06 a.m. Chris Zanobini: Last season was one of the best seasons we had in a very long time, probably from a grower returns standpoint, but also from the innovative and exciting (promotion) programs we had put in place. But after last season, it was a year of a lot of discussions and it was a time of transition. The pear advisory board took a hard look at what we were doing and said, “Let’s focus on things we can do the best and where we can provide the greatest value, and put those other items that can be done better by someone else up for discussion.”

The pear advisory board doesn’t control production, so the people in the best position to deal with the retail trade, setting up promotions are those who are dealing with the product. So the shippers are in the best situation to put retail programs in place, because they are managing the produce, the packaging, the size of the fruit and what they want to do to promote. We are no longer doing retail promotions as a pear advisory board; that is now being done by the shippers. They are the ones better situated closer to the product. Therefore, they can be more direct and have more influence on the retail trade.

One other thing we done are taking resources we have put together and created an industry toolbox. So we have all the materials we have produced over the past 15 years and have put it online. So somebody in the pear industry or the retail trade can use those items and create promotional materials. We have invested quite a bit of resources over the years into developing all these different promotion programs and they (are of) value long-term for everyone to utilize. We are also putting together category consumer information to assist the industry and retail trade with managing the category. We are pretty excited about that.

9:08 a.m. Karst: The board will continue to conduct export promotions?

9:08 a.m. Zanobini: We still will have our export program. There is a whole different method for export promotions, different relationships between shippers and the buyer.

9:09 a.m. Karst: The fact that the board is stepping back from retail promotions that they have done in the past, what does that mean for the visibility of you and the board?

9:10 a.m. Zanobini: The goal here is not to lessen the impact of the pear advisory board or my role in it. The goal is to make sure we are sustainable and making sure we continue to be a presence out there, and let people know that the pear industry is moving forward here in California. We will still be out at the events — United Fresh, PMA (and) international events.