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    Industry Undecided on Need for Fruit & Veggie Research/Promo Board: Study

    It’s still too early to tell if the industry needs a national fruit and vegetable research and promotion board, according to results of an electronic survey conducted by the Wilmington, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH).

    It’s still too early to tell if the industry needs a national fruit and vegetable research and promotion board, according to results of an electronic survey conducted by the Wilmington, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH).

    Indeed, the strongest indicator that more outreach is needed was the weak response to the survey, which was e-mailed to growers, shippers, processors and importers about the proposed board. Despite extending the survey deadline by an additional week, for a total of three weeks, the overall survey response rate was only 8 percent; of the 3,104 people whose opinions were requested when they received the survey, only 248 sent in responses.

    “Between the low survey response rate and the fact that so many who did respond had not heard about the promotion board concept prior to the survey, PBH outreach about the proposed promotion board will continue prior to a second survey being fielded,” said Paul Klutes, director of brand sales for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson and chairman of PBH’s board of trustees. “As originally scheduled, the PBH executive committee will meet in late October to review next steps.”

    The survey did offer some points of insight, however:

    --Overall, 22 percent of respondents indicated they are in favor of the promotion board, while 31 percent said they are opposed and 47 percent are undecided about the concept
    --Almost half of respondents (45 percent) said they had not heard about the promotion board proposal prior to receiving the survey
    --Forty-six percent of respondents hold a recognized consumer brand and 42 percent already pay some form of promotional assessment -- but there were no notable differences in support/opposition to the promotion board among those who did or did not have a brand name and those who did or did not currently pay an assessment
    --Those who sell a small assortment of fruits and vegetables, or only one type, are more in favor of the promotion board than those who sell many different kinds of fruits and vegetables
    --No clear correlation can be made to a company’s size and its support or opposition to the promotion board concept

    In 2008, PBH’s executive committee appointed an industry task force to look into past barriers to a national fruit and vegetable research and promotion board. After a year-long discussion, the task force presented its best thinking to PBH’s executive committee and this in turn was shared with the PBH board of trustees at its annual meeting in early April 2009.

    The proposed objective of the promotion board is to increase consumption in the United States of all forms of fruits and vegetables for better health through implementation of a comprehensive health marketing, communications and education effort.

    For more information about the National Fruit and Vegetable Research Promotion Board concept survey results, visit www.fvcampaign.org.

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