By now, you think the global fruit and vegetable industry would have figured out the promotion game.
But evidently not.
Everywhere one looks, there is concern about how populations of developed countries fall short of their targeted consumption goals. There is gnashing of teeth, wringing of hands and calls for government to help.
From Freshfel, the European Fresh Produce Association, my inbox reveals an update from the group on the topic of promotion and agriculture policy.
A Freshfel news release reports food and nutrition experts are urging European decision makers for a “novel approach” to agriculture and food policies “as existing ones are currently inappropriate to translate the recognized beneficial assets of fruits and vegetables into effective consumption practice.”
Or, put in simple terms, people aren’t eating enough fresh produce.
European produce marketers may not know the way to go, but they know the current path is not quite working. Freshfel’s Annual Consumption monitor data shows that one piece of fruit or vegetable per day/per person has been lost in the past decade.
The solution in Europe may start with the “expert group” — the heralded blue-ribbon panel, if you please — to have a close look at “market-oriented” policy initiatives relative to nutrition, research, innovation, information and promotion policies.
Of course Europe is not unique.
Even with the many health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption readily acknowledged (I won’t be tiresome and list them all), the Produce for Better Health Foundation struggles to move the consumption needs in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its 2013 State Indicator Report on fruits and vegetables, http://1.usa.gov/1bjYudU, tells us the discouraging news that 37% of U.S. adults report they consume fruits less than one time daily. For vegetables, 23% report they consume vegetables less than one time daily. Forget about 9 a day, or even 5 a day, we can’t even get everybody to eat one a day.
So there is much work to do. Everyone needs to pull together.
But it isn’t happening.
In that vein, I am having a little trouble understanding why no staffer from the Produce for Better Health Foundation was included in the Produce Marketing Association’s “Sesame Street” blue ribbon panel, er, task force.
No argument from me about the credentials of those who are on the task force, but why not include a senior staff from PBH in the mix?
With such high hopes to leverage the “Sesame Street” brand, it would have made sense to include the industry’s promotion generic outfit as the foundation is laid.
Plus, PBH’s experience in licensing the “More Matters” message and logo would provide a voice of experience to the task force.
Whatever the reason for the apparent snub, we can only hope that members of the task force that have served PMA in a volunteer capacity or who have leaned on PBH for resources will be the voice for inclusion as the heavy lifting for this ambitious project begins.
I asked for PMA’s comment on this point but haven’t heard from them (as of Dec. 5).
Perhaps the industry will always be flummoxed in its attempt to create a demand-shifting generic promotion campaign for fresh produce.
Decades from now, perhaps the focus of marketing efforts will be even more sharply brand or commodity focused.
How are blueberries good for you? Let me count the ways.
I’ve been on the record with the contention that mandatory assessments from domestic and imported fresh produce suppliers should fund generic promotion efforts.
I think “fresh” needs to be the focus. After all, our friends in the frozen food industry are funding studies that tell the consumer to “think frozen.”
One thing is certain: it will be difficult to ask the government to do more than what it is doing. Dietary guidelines that are friendly to fruits and vegetables, updated school lunch standards (now under attack) that favor fresh produce, the first lady’s pro-industry anti-obesity campaigns.
Other than a workable immigration policy, what more can the industry ask?
Cracking the code to increased consumption can begin now.
Sure, it would be immeasurably better if the industry had $150 million in generic promotion assessments to help implement this Sesame Street campaign.
But the sharp marketing minds enlisted for this task force — notwithstanding the painful omission of PBH — will deliver a winning opportunity to create awareness and demand for fresh produce in return for a modest investment.