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Taylor Farms gives PBH big boost

by Tim Linden | March 23, 2010
Taylor Farms has increased its financial commitment to the Produce for Better Health Foundation with a $250,000 pledge over the next five years. Taylor Farms joins other long-time major annual contributors such as Paramount Farms, Stemilt Growers and Syngenta, which have been at or above the $50,000 level for several years.

"In the course of our industry conversation about the merits of a national promotion board for fruits and vegetables this past year, we were again impressed with the mission and the effectiveness of PBH," Bruce Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of Salinas, CA-based Taylor Farms, said in a March 19 PBH press release. "PBH, with [its] sole focus of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among Americans with their unifying message, 'Fruits and Veggies -- More Matters,' is incredibly successful in working with retailers and foodservice operators to get maximum leverage from industry resources. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption by American consumers will benefit them with a healthier diet and benefit the industry that produces and distributes great fruits and vegetables. We are proud to be a more significant partner in this important project."

PBH President and CEO Elizabeth Pivonka told The Produce News March 23 that the economic downturn has taken its toll on industry contributions to the foundation, so the Taylor Farms commitment is very timely. She indicated that at least a half-dozen longtime contributors have had to scale back their donations this year, and the funds from Taylor Farms help make up for those losses.

"We are both happy and humbled by this pledge of support in our mission to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for the better health of Americans," Ms. Pivonka said in the press release. "It is an honor to work for an organization that does something good for consumers as well as for the industry."

PBH has had to readjust its budget for the past two years because of donation losses that Ms. Pivonka believes are the result of the current economic conditions.

For 2010, PBH expects to have revenues of $4.1 million. Ms. Pivonka revealed that about 65 percent of the foundation's income comes from the private sector, while 26 percent of comes from net catalog sales, 8 percent comes from in-kind contributions and 1 percent comes from grants. About 60-65 percent of the cash contributions comes from what she categorized as "fresh industry," while the rest is derived from retailers, foodservice operators, other processors and allied industry firms, such as crop protection and seed companies.

It was significant that Taylor Farms mentioned the efforts of PBH to foster conversation with regard to the national promotion program when pledging its increased contribution. Ms. Pivonka said that while the PBH leadership might have ruffled a few feathers with its commitment to the ill-fated proposal, she did not believe there were significant donation losses because of it.

Ms. Pivonka did say that PBH has refocused its efforts toward its "More Matters" message, and she has also redirected her energies toward expanding the reach of that program.

Ms. Pivonka spent a significant portion of her time in 2009 debating the national promotion program idea. With that task behind her, she is trying to expand the reach of "More Matters" beyond the fruit and vegetable sector. Specifically she is working with other organizations, such as health advocacy groups, to stress the importance of increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables as a viable method to improve the collective health of this country's people. She said that the message does resonate with organizations such as physician groups or nutrition advocates working against child obesity or diabetes.

Of course, PBH continues to tout the use of the "More Matters" campaign materials by retailers and the use of the logo by grower-shippers. Ms. Pivonka indicated that it does not take much for a packer to add the logo and the message of increased consumption to its packaging. While most in the industry are aware of the three-year old campaign, Ms. Pivonka said that there is still a lot of work to do to spread the message to consumers.

Among new initiatives by PBH is the development of a report that exposes the disparity between the nation's dietary goals and expenditure of government funds in various programs. Often times those government-sponsored dietary goals are in direct conflict with government spending. Ms. Pivonka said that the report should be completed by the end of the year or by early 2011, in time to give fruit and vegetable advocates some ammunition as they attempt to increase funding for that sector in the next farm bill.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation will discuss its plans for the next year in detail at its annual meeting, which will be held April 8-10 at the Ritz- Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA. The meeting will feature a presentation of PBH's plans as well as some new consumer research on fruit and vegetable consumption and the annual fundraiser, which is a dinner auction.