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Calling All Buyers…
Leafy Greens Group Reaches Out

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, May 30, 2008

The trade’s proximate response to the spinach crisis of 2006 was the establishment of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. The Agreement has made much progress but it cannot be a static entity; it has to reach out and identify ways to improve the program.

In order to move along this road, the CLGMA surveyed a scientifically selected sample of retail and foodservice buyers.

Some received a survey via e-mail and others were selected for a telephone survey.

Here is how the CLGMA describes the project:

LGMA Asks For Opinions and Input
from Retail and Foodservice Buyers

Although huge strides in the area of food safety have been made since the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) was implemented in 2007, the LGMA continues to work to build and improve this unprecedented program. As part of that effort, the LGMA has developed a survey for retail and foodservice buyers of leafy greens products. The results of this survey will be used to help guide the program’s future efforts.

The LGMA survey will be sent via e-mail to some retailers or foodservice buyers will be contacted by phone. Survey phone calls and e-mails will begin arriving next week. The survey will take about 20 minutes to complete.

“Although we are very proud of how much has been accomplished in the last year, we’ve been clear that this program needs to continue to evolve and improve,” says Scott Horsfall, LGMA chief executive officer. “We are asking buyers of leafy greens products for their input on this program implemented to protect public health. Their opinions are very important to us and we ask that everyone who receives a survey, please take the time to fill it out.”

Tim York, president of Markon Cooperative, is pleased that the LGMA is reaching out to the buying community. “I think it is great that they are involving the buying community in future efforts of this important program, which has really become a model for farmers in other states. I would hope that everyone who receives a survey will take a few minutes out of their busy day and provide their opinions to the LGMA.”

In addition to this survey of buyers, the LGMA also conducted a consumer survey recently. That survey showed an impressive 89% of consumers had a favorable opinion when they were told about the food safety programs and mandatory government audits being implemented under the LGMA program. And, 70% of consumers said that after learning more about the LGMA food safety program their confidence in the overall safety of leafy green products increased.

The LGMA was formed in the spring of 2007. Operating with oversight from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the LGMA is a mechanism for verifying through mandatory government inspections that farmers follow accepted food safety practices for lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens.

The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete and, of course, buyers are busy people. We have been told that many buyers have been deeply cooperative, providing fantastic and comprehensive feedback, but we are also told that there are many unanswered surveys and unreturned phone calls.

The way survey methodology works is small numbers represent large segments, so it is a real contribution to the industry to answer the survey and give feedback.

A few people seem to always get the headlines, but the important work of the trade cannot be done without many quiet heroes doing their bit.

If you haven’t returned your survey or responded to a phone call, there is still time. Twenty minutes of your time can change the course of an industry. Please speak out today.

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