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Making mushrooms essential: reaching more folks, more often.

The goal of 2007 was to deliver 500 million impressions, including advertising. In 2008, the Mushroom Council plans to increase this targeted outreach at least 50 percent (on a 16 percent assessment increase). How?

The Council will continue to capitalize on "super-foods," a growing trend in healthy eating, by making mushrooms part of the conversation. According to Food Navigator, the list of accepted superfoods will double by 2011. Today, there is no set definition for superfoods, so while seeking inclusion into the variable lists of superfoods, the Council will begin to work with nutrition professionals, trend experts and the media to refine the term and ensure that mushrooms are an integral part of this evolving phenomenon.

Next year from July through September the Council is participating in Weight Watchers 2008 Third Quarter "Pick of the Season" promotion. Weight Watchers will produce about 1.1 million recipe cards featuring four mushroom recipes for distribution in their 40,000 meeting rooms nationwide. Mushrooms will also be spotlighted in the Weight Watchers Web site "Market Fresh" section. Moreover, growers and shippers can use the Weight Watchers, "Pick of the Season" and "POINTS[R]" icon trademarks on packages during the July-September 2008 period to remind the health conscious shopper they can eat up to a two-cup serving of mushrooms, which has a POINTS value of 0, and still stay on plan.

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To complement the Weight Watchers partnership and introduce the "Treasure Health, Treasure Mushrooms" theme, the Council will also be advertising on www.cookinglight.com and its recipe site, www.myrecipes.com

Cooking Light is the #1 magazine in which women take action, with 62 percent of readers trying a recipe or following other recommendations. Through the Council's partnership, readers will have more mushroom recipes and tips. Plus, Cooking Light is a natural fit because it focuses on great tasting, healthy recipes and gives everyday, every way examples of easy, healthy cooking.

To complete the surround sound effect with the Weight Watchers program, the Council will be launching a promotional effort with Applebee's restaurants across the country, in support of the mushroom items on their Weight Watchers menu. With more than 16,000 guests visiting each of more than 1,800 restaurants, mushrooms will reach more than 27 million consumers over the course of a single month, and reaching them with great tasting mushroom dishes to boot.

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The Council remains committed to furthering research and knowledge about mushrooms' nutritional qualities, such as antioxidant and vitamin D content, and effects on health, particularly for immunity defenses and weight management. In fact, results from Council-funded scientific research on the effects of eating mushrooms for weight management are anticipated in coming months. Publication of this study will trigger programs that integrate several of the Council's planned initiatives. First, an alert about the study will immediately be distributed to more than 1,000 influential health and nutrition experts and media contacts. Results will also be shared with members of the Mushroom Global Health Initiative. Details of the study will be communicated directly with approximately 5.7 million Weight Watchers members.

The Mushroom Council will also continue its partnership with Bob Greene's Best Life through 2008 with little additional investment. This partnership was funded in 2007 making mushrooms one of only two produce items to be part of this popular new diet. Greene's book, "The Best Life Diet," became a bestseller, gained Oprah Winfrey's endorsement and ranked #1 in the June issue of Consumer Reports. In 2008, the Council will continue to offer recipes through www.bestlife.com, share Best Life approved recipes to be used on packages of fresh mushrooms and negotiate inclusion in Bob Greene's media interviews.

For retail merchandisers, the Mushroom Council will be promoting quality control with cold-chain management to ensure the very best mushrooms for shoppers. Tentative plans approved by the Council include two merchandisers calling on the top chains to help investigate and suggest ways to solve current challenges and continue thinking of ways to provide fresh, high-quality mushrooms in the produce aisles. The merchandisers will remind retailers that the mushroom category is one of the 10 most-profitable categories in the produce section.

The Mushroom Council will also be generating and supporting more mushroom dishes on menus through ongoing and cultivated foodservice relationships as well as trade media relations to keep industry influencers better informed about mushrooms. In addition to menu development, the Council will work to build a Chef Advisory Panel, create collateral and sales tools, and participate in selected conferences, including the "Marketing Executive Group" (MEG), "Worlds of Flavor," and "International Foodservice Editorial Council" (IFEC). One of the most exciting is the annual "Worlds of Flavor" conference put on by the Culinary Institute of America, an event that draws 600 chefs and members of the press from around the globe and always sets the tone for coverage of food trends in the coming year.

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In 2007, the Council engaged in a national "test" of three advertising vehicles, fielded in just over 6,000 stores for one month across the U.S. The tentative plan for 2008 is to be in at least 10,000 stores for at least one month in support of the 2008 summer launch of the Weight Watchers "Pick of the Season" promotion.

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The Council is constantly adapting its plan for effectiveness and looking for new ways to remind consumers, retailers, foodservice operators and health professionals why mushrooms are a delicious, nutritious, if not essential food.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Top Terrific Ten

Research shows that the mushroom category, including the bulk mushrooms and exotic segments, is one of the 10 most profitable categories in the produce section.
Produce Category Profitability

(Adjusted Gross Profit Margin)

Onions 52.5%
Lettuce 47.3%
Packaged Salads 45.7%
Bananas 45.2%
Melons 44.3%
Other Vegetables 44.2%
Tomatoes 44.0%
Peppers 43.3%
Specialty Vegetables 42.7%
Mushrooms 42.1%

Note: Table made from bar graph.


Source: Willard Bishop Grocery SuperStudy 2005

RELATED ARTICLE: Conner Names Members To Mushroom Council

Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner recently appointed four members to serve on the Mushroom Council.

Newly appointed producer members who will serve three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2008 and ending Dec. 31, 2010 are: Fletcher Street, Region 1, Tacoma, WA; Kathleen K. Lafferty, Region 2, Landenberg, PA; and Joe Caldwell, Region 3, Knoxville, TN.

Virgil Jurgensmeyer of Miami, OK, the newly appointed member for Region 1, will serve a two-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2008 and ending Dec. 31, 2009.

Authorized under the Mushroom Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1990, the Mushroom Council--composed of fresh market producers or importers who average more than 500,000 pounds of mushrooms produced or imported annually--administers a national promotion, research and consumer information program to maintain and expand markets for fresh mushrooms. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service monitors the operations of the Council.

More information about research and promotion programs can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/fv/rpb.html
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Title Annotation:produce marketing
Publication:Mushroom News
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:1165
Previous Article:Dividends of marketing.
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