Raspberry Producers Create Ad Program

American raspberry growers recently received permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create an ad program to promote the consumption of processed raspberries, permission that growers have long sought in a tough economic climate.

Agricultural products across the country benefit from ad programs, typically supported by mandatory fees paid by growers. The raisin, beef, and dairy industries all rely on national ad programs to support and market their products, raising money with mandatory fees paid by producers and importers. The processed raspberry industry hopes to imitate this method, translating modest fees into major nationwide marketing.

While estimates are still in their early stages, officials believe that fees of 1 cent per pound could generate as much as $1.2 million a year, putting a raspberry ad program in the same league as the dairy industry, which still benefits from the successful Got Milk campaigns.

While raspberry producers are largely optimistic about the new ad program, they acknowledge that they face some major hurdles, with election year politics being one of the most pressing immediate concerns. Last year, the USDA approved an industry initiated ad program for Christmas tree growers. The program, which relied on mandatory fees paid by growers to support marketing campaigns, was ridiculed by the media and by conservatives as a Christmas tree tax. In the face of large-scale hostility, the USDA backed off, abandoning the program. Raspberry producers hope that similar political gamesmanship will not derail their current efforts.

In addition, raspberry producers are concerned that their ad program may come off as denigrating fresh raspberry and want to reiterate that they are not attempting to convince consumers to buy processed, rather than fresh, berries.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer