Another brick has been laid in our long-term efforts to build success – the change from “Dried Plums” to California Prunes. The product of intensive research and development, the new brand was unveiled to the trade this year accompanied by a well-developed messaging plan. I’m quite pleased with the result and I hope you are, too. But the real value comes when the entire industry embraces and adopts the message it conveys: “Why the world comes to California for prunes.” Please see the accompanying story on our new brand for ways you can utilize it. And consider yourself as a personal ambassador, always ready to discuss the health benefits of prunes and great new ways to include prunes in daily meal planning.
Success is measured in the professionalism and attentiveness of our CPB staff, agencies, consultants and advisory panels. Our success also demands improved grower outreach and communication, engaged and contributing committee and board members, and a cohesive and thoughtful implementation of strategies at every level. When all of these come together, the Executive Committee and the Board can make informed decisions based on the improved performance metrics.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of our developing relationships with the USDA/Agricultural Marketing Service. Over the past two years, government purchases of California Prunes sales have amounted to $41 million. This has greatly aided efforts to balance our supply of various fruit sizes and place California in better shape than our struggling competitors abroad. The USDA has become an important partner for us bringing California Prunes into the kitchens of the National School Lunch Program and other Federal Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs as a nutritious staple. Our work continues as we establish regular and recurring buys from our government agencies. The success is a direct result of the dedicated and professional CPB team.
It’s true, our business is impacted by forces outside our direct control, both in California (for example, minimum wage increases and endless regulatory changes) and abroad (tariffs, trade wars, arbitrary standards for residue levels, etc.). That said, board members, packers and growers must maintain focus on what we can directly impact.
“The feedback I hear from those engaged in the process tells me we’re moving in the right direction.”