In June, the Council celebrated its second anniversary. We have experienced so much I find it hard to believe that it is only two years since we first met. At that time, our focus was on developing and approving Bylaws, Policies and Procedures, an organizational budget, forming committees…all the things you think about as a major part of “Board” business. But we also set the groundwork for building a marketing program that is designed to build demand by demonstrating the benefits of consuming processed raspberries. At the Council’s most recent meeting, we voted to approve our fiscal year 2016 marketing plan and budget which show the advantages of building a strong foundation and investing time to find the right Public Relations Agency to carry us forward.
Next year the Council will fund five new and eleven continuing research projects. These projects are the core of what the Council does. While results take time to develop, well-conceived and executed research will allow the Council to make statements linking raspberry consumption to healthy living. Projects next year include five looking at the relationship of raspberries to diabetes/insulin resistance, three will examine the role of raspberries in regulating gut health, two will examine the cardio-protective benefits of raspberries, two clinical studies are looking at arthritis and osteoporosis, raspberries’ role in cognitive and motor function will be the focus of two studies, and the final two studies examine how raspberries impact metabolic syndrome. In addition, the Council will be funding the second year of a two-year study on the ability of UV light to inactivate food borne pathogens. Some of the multi-year projects are showing promising results and will be presented at scientific meetings and be published in leading journals.
The Council’s Public Relations Agency, Salt & Company, has done a great job in learning about our industry and its products. From the beginning, they have asked the right questions, listened to answers, tested hypotheses, and then designed communications programs targeting the people who make a difference, whether it is at the retail level, in foodservice, or to food manufacturers. They have leveraged the marketing foundation built under the leadership of the Washington Red Raspberry Commission with their own relationships to establish an integrated, fully functional marketing program in a short period of time.
There is no doubt but that it will take time to see the results of the investment we are making. We are moving in the right direction and I look forward to seeing how these programs play out in the future. There are external challenges to the industry that the Council can do nothing about, but for those we can control, we have a plan in place that is impressive and well-designed.