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Perishable Thoughts — Sins Of Industry Can’t Be Cleansed By Generic Program

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, August 5, 2009

With all our discussion of generic promotion we have been intrigued that much of our feedback has identified the industry itself as the cause of low per capita consumption of fresh produce.

We published one such letter here, and when we received a Martha Stewart quote on the same subject it seemed worth some attention:

“I think it’s very important that whatever you’re trying to make or sell or teach has to be basically good. A bad product and you know what? You won’t be here in 10 years.”

Academy of Achievement Interview
with Martha Stewart
By Martha Stewart
June 2, 1995

Taken from this larger section:

What are the most important characteristics for success?

“Martha Stewart: For me it’s a dedication to your real interests. It’s an ability to be open-minded. Without an open-minded mind, you can never be a great success. The great artists have been open-minded, even though they may seem, like Picasso, to be very directed, you can be directed and open-minded at the same time. I think you have to be really intensely serious about your work, but not so serious that you can’t see the lightness that may also involve your life. You have to have that lightness too. You have to not be so heavy-handed and so ostentatious. It’s very important not to be.

I live in the same house I’ve lived in for 25 years. I haven’t gone off and bought mansions. Even though my subject is living, living in a mansion wouldn’t do for my readers. I have to keep my credibility alive with my readers, so we’re in the same place. I just make that place nicer and nicer. And that’s a secret. People don’t know that. People think, oh, she lives in this fabulous place, but it’s the same old place. It started out like a farm, it got to be a farmette, then it got to be an estatelet. I built a wall; it helped a lot. But it’s the same place, the same grounded nature.

As I evolve, I hope my readers evolve, I hope my viewers evolve. And also, I think it’s very important that whatever you’re trying to make or sell, or teach has to be basically good. A bad product and you know what? You won’t be here in ten years. You might be rich, you might be famous, but you’re not going to be here in 10 years.”

The quote can be viewed here:

Page 2 of the interview at the Academy of Achievement website

(You can also view a video clip of her saying the quote, underneath where it appears on the page)

Words of Wisdom: Business (Google Books)
Tim Esensi
2008

The quote can be purchased here:

Words of Wisdom: Business
Tim Esensi
2008

The gist of the industry self-critique goes like this:

We start with varieties selected for good yield or easy transport, rather than flavor. We pick too early to catch high markets and then don’t properly refrigerate at retail.

Each commodity has its own list of sins: Peaches have so many varieties, some good, some bad, some indifferent, yet they are sold in a non-differentiated manner as simply “peaches” — so consumers are often disappointed as the flavor is irregular.

An apple shipper told us his best customer to display his apples in large tables at the front of the department — but the tables are not refrigerated. He knows that this gives the consumer a lower quality product but is afraid to speak up lest the retailer put another product in those high-traffic tables.

We suspect Martha Stewart is wrong. Sins and all, there will be a produce industry in 10 years, but we think she is right to focus on the quality of the product.

Delivering a consistently delicious product is the key to boosting consumption. Let us hope that talk of a generic promotion board doesn’t make industry executives think that somebody else will solve their marketing problems.

“Consistently Delicious” could be a great slogan… but only if the product can live up to it.

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Perishable Thoughts is a regular section of the Perishable Pundit. If you have a favorite quote that you would like to share with the industry, please send it on. You can do so right here.

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