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The Effect Of Fresh Express And Its Absence In The CDFA Marketing Agreement

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, March 29, 2007

A large grower in Salinas sent us this question:

I would like to know your opinion of the absence of Fresh Express in the Marketing Agreement and what effect it will eventually have on Dean Florez’s legislation. I questioned WGA’s percentage of the handlers in the MA and they agreed that there was a problem with them and they need to go back and rethink these numbers.

If Florez really knew the true numbers, I think he would run with them and insist that too much product will be in the system without the enforcement of the MA’s GAP’s metrics. We all know that Fresh Ex’s standards meet or exceed the newly established ones by the industry, but it still will give the legislators and the media the necessary tools to move forward.

Yes, as we have said many times, including here, there is something wacky about the numbers.

When all is said and done, it is going to come out that over 40% of the bagged salads sold in America won’t be eligible to use the mark of the CDFA. Some of the Fresh Express growers may have signed on anyway, but the percentages the CDFA are using just don’t make sense.

As our correspondent shrewdly points out, when this becomes evident to those looking for mandatory regulation, they will be able to claim that the industry initiative failed as evidenced by lack of participation.

Fresh Express had its business reasons for electing not to participate, which we dealt with here, but it has been an easy decision for them because none of their customers have demanded that they sign or lose the business.

In fact none of their customers have even required them to get a third-party audit attesting to the fact that they are following their very high standards.

The shocking thing here is not that Fresh Express didn’t want to sign. That was fairly predictable in light of their positioning and the lack of buyer commitment to the program. The shocking thing is that WGA went ahead with the program without getting commitments from the top bagged salad manufacturers.

The answer though is yes, when it turns out that the CDFA number is all wrong and doesn’t represent what the consumer’s experience will be, the credibility of CDFA will be shot and the enemies of the industry will have been handed a bullet to use against us.

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