US: Time is ripe for processed tomato ad campaign

Central Valley tomato growers will soon find out how much demand there is for their product in Peoria City and Green Bay, Wisconsin. The two are the test markets for an advertising campaign for processed tomatoes.

The promotion was discussed late last week at the annual meeting of the California Tomato Growers Association. The aim is to increase demand for the produce for use in such foods as pasta and sauces.

"We need to communicate the benefits that it is healthy, easy and tasty," said John Randazzo, head of the San Francisco advertising agency that created the campaign.

In 2010 the tomato processing industry netted growers approximately $236 million and employs many thousands of people in, for example, canning operations on a seasonal basis.

This section of the tomato industry is conducted separately from the fresh produce arena, which is not extensive in the area. It does, however, generate a higher price per ton than those used for processing.

Growers and canners created the Tomato Products Wellness Council to promote the industry in the face of a fresh-is-better trend among consumers. Amongst its tasks has been highlighting such issues as the evidence that shows processed tomatoes are actually more beneficial than fresh in relation to the certain health issues.

Research suggests that processed tomatoes can slow down certain cancer and help protect against heart disease, for example.

The aim is to increase per-capital consumption, which has been falling in recent years.

An oversupply hampers efforts to increase the prices paid to growers. They averaged $68 per ton last year, down from the record $80 in 2009, though better than the $50 or so a decade ago.

Peoria and Green Bay were chosen for the campaign due to moderate tomato consumption that is seen as being ripe for an increase.

The campaign will end in June and will include television, radio and internet advertisements.

Sales in the two cities will be compared with pre- campaign levels and, should an improvement be seen, could result in a larger effort.


Publication date: 2/6/2012

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