For example: Why now? What's the evidence of generic promotion effectiveness? Will this lead to a flattening of the market, where fruits and vegetable are only commodities? Why hasn't this been done before? What about legal challenges to promotion boards? What will happen to the Produce for Better Health Foundation? What will our trading partners think of this? Is it fair to assess on the basis of value - why not per carton or by consumption? Can't this just be for fresh produce only - why must it include processed fruits and vegetables? How will promotions under this board be different than those of commodity groups already working to promote citrus, grapes, pears, etc? Will the money raised from the proposed assessment be enough to make the desired impact? What kinds of messages will be permitted under USDA oversight?
Patience, my friends.
From spending more an hour with Elizabeth March 19 listening to her presentation, I can say there is much to commend in the work of the task force, and these questions were and will be addressed. Their work is indeed substantial, and something the trade can digest and respond to over the next few months.
You should know that The Packer has endorsed the plan in our editorial this week titled "The Time is now for PBH plan." Be sure to check that edit out when you receive the April 6 edition.
I have been on record as a proponent of a national promotion board with mandatory assessments for fruits and vegetables. I think it will place the industry in a much better position in the marketplace and in the political arena.
I think our trade associations will be even handed and allow for thorough discussion and contemplation of the issue over the next several months. There will be leaders in the industry who are energized by the idea and others who will be passionate against it. In order for a promotion board to win the day, board members of trade associations must rise to champion the cause.
This opportunity may present the best vehicle to move the demand needle for fruits and vegetables in a generation. So let the dialog (dialogue) begin.