New Promotional Campaign Announced, Value of the Florida
Tomato Crop Continues to Decline
The Tomato Magazine
By Sandy Lindblad Lee
NAPLES, FLFlorida tomatoes may soon be elevated to celebrity status
alongside many wildly popular food personalities if the Florida Tomato
Committees (FTC) new marketing campaign achieves the success that
Samantha Winters believes is attainable.
Winters, director of education and promotion for the FTC, outlined the
strategies to be implemented to boost demand and sales of the states
tomatoes throughout the 2007-08 Florida tomato season. The FTCs
new campaign, which includes partnering with the Food Network and Borders
Group Inc., were rolled out during its annual meeting on Sept. 6. The
gathering was part of the variety of business and social events during
the 32nd Annual Florida Joint Tomato Conference, held in Naples at the
Ritz Carlton hotel.
A key component in the television promotions will be implied endorsements
through 12 celebrity chefs from the most powerful network on Cable
TV, Winters emphasized. Our new campaign is exciting, is aggressive
and is completely unprecedented.
With FTCs consumer media television advertising budget to be shifted
exclusively to the Food Network, the message will have higher impact,
she predicted. Four 15-second commercials to be aired include one that
is newly created through SenaReider, the Monterey, Calif.-based ad agency
retained by the FTC. The remaining three existing spots have been utilized
by the committee the past two years on the Food Network and several other
The new commercials message is designed to persuade consumers to
visit their supermarkets and purchase Florida tomatoes, not merely for
their rich fl avor, nutritional value, and versatility but
because of an added perk this season. Florida tomato purchasers will also
receive a coupon that can be redeemed at one of over 1,000 Borders, Borders
Express or Waldenbooks stores nationwide for
25 percent off the best-selling cookbook, Food Network Favorites: Recipes
from our All-Star Chefs.
The 192 television spots will be seen by the Food Networks 53 million
Complementary retail support will be offered through point-of-sale kits
which feature posters and other display materials which help draw attention
to the coupon offer. The FTC will also utilize a
retail merchandising team to help initiate and assist with execution of
in-store promotions. Two merchandisers will focus their efforts on the
East Coast, with a third calling on Midwest outlets. At least
15,000 point-of-sale kits and about 3.7 million coupons will be printed.
This fully-integrated campaign will help reach our primary demographic
group but will deliver more effective point-of-sale execution, Winters
stressed. The news about our new campaign will also create a halo
effect and free P.R. The high value we are offering to the consumer
will generate trade excitement and will drive retail traffic, she
Winters also noted that past Florida tomato promotions were always
more spring-oriented, but this years program will kick off
Dec. 17 and continue through mid-May.
Research Results Outlined
Food safety, sanitation and handling, methyl bromide alternatives, new
tomato variety breeding and whitefl y disease management were the priorities
addressed through research funded, in part, by the FTC during the past
year. George Hochmuth of the University of Floridas Institute of
Food & Agricultural Sciences presented the research report during
the FTC annual gathering.
A study remains in progress on salmonella and the specific process it
goes through as it gets into the roots of the tomato plant and is ultimately
transported throughout its vascular system. Relating to methyl bromide,
on which the Florida tomato industry still heavily relies, Hochmuth was
not optimistic that a viable alternative will be developed. In the future,
a mixture of different approaches will be necessary, he said.
Reggie Brown, FTC manager, reported that the research committee approved
the allocation of nearly $253,000 to fund eight research projects for
2007-08. A remaining portion of research reserves has been designated
for a study on waste stream management at packinghouses dealing
with wastewater and fl ow management in an environmentally sound way.
Also during the FTC annual meeting, the group voted to maintain the initial
regulations and marketing policy already in place for the upcoming season.
In an interview with Tomato Magazine following the meetings adjournment,
FTC Manager Reggie Brown said a primary focus of the committee during
the upcoming season will be an aggressive effort to be pro-active
in the food safety area. Brown also noted the declining value of
the Florida tomato crop in recent years. Over the past three seasons,
the states tomato industry has experienced a $260 million drop in
crop value. Referring back to 2004-05, the industry sold round tomatoes
under a federal marketing order here in the state for a value of
about $663 million, Brown said. That amount dropped to $492 million
in 2005-06, with a devastating hurricane season compounding the losses.
Without hurricanes to blame for last seasons decline, tomato values
again dropped and sold for a total of $404 million.
With production and fuel prices continuing to rise, it will be
crucial to have a much more profi table 2007-08 season, he said.
In addition to the FTC meeting, the annual gatherings for the Florida
Tomato Exchange and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange were conducted
on Sept. 6.
Other highlights of the conference included the Florida Tomato Institute
on Sept. 5. Among the topics of the reports relating to ongoing research
were disease and pest control in tomatoes, marketing issues and development
of new tomato varieties.
© 2007 Columbia Publishing
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