National Board of Southeast, Southwest Farmers Issues First RFP
By Vincent Coppola
ATLANTA--The National Peanut Board, a new trade association representing U.S. farmers, has sent out a request for proposal for assistance in developing market research, promotions, advertising and public relations campaigns.
The budget for the kickoff effort is expected to total $8-10 million over the next 18 months, said board general manager Mitch Head.
The Atlanta-based group was formed by U.S. peanut growers in 1999 under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As the board's mission is constituted, 1 percent of the $1 billion U.S. harvest will be used to fund research and marketing initiatives.
Some $10 million in membership assessments is already in hand. The funding is earmarked to build brand image, increase competitiveness and boost demand for U.S. peanut products worldwide.
In the last 20 years, according board research, the number of peanut farmers has dropped by 50 percent; only some 10,000 remain in a field hampered by skyrocketing land costs, economies of scale that favor large agribusiness conglomerates, and in-
creased overseas competition from Argentina, China and India.
"Our farmers are economically distressed," said Head. "It's our job on the board to help implement some far-reaching changes."
Price supports and other protections are in place. Under federal law, only 10 percent of the peanuts processed in the U.S. can be imported.
In the U.S., the retail market for peanut products totals $2.5 billion. Consumption has risen 2-3 percent over the last few years, a slight rebound since the early 1990s, when the nation's flirtation with low-fat diets and other health kicks sent demand for goobers plummeting.
New research published by the University of Pennsylvania suggests peanuts and other high monosaturated fat foodstuffs like avocados and olive oil may help prevent adult diabetes and heart disease--clearly fodder for marketing and public relations campaigns.
Two-page proposals ("executive summaries") citing ad agency qualifications and potential marketing approaches are due in Atlanta by June 9.
The board is composed of 10 farmers from the Deep South, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Selected agencies will be invited to make formal proposals. A final decision is expected by Labor Day.
"Whether we get five, 55 or 155 submissions," said Head, "we want some kind of direction."