Rise in PR for organic foods likely as USDA OK's labeling

WASHINGTON: Newly approved federal standards for labeling foods 'organic' will mean increased PR efforts for these products and could push more PR firms into developing in-house expertise in marketing them.

WASHINGTON: Newly approved federal standards for labeling foods 'organic' will mean increased PR efforts for these products and could push more PR firms into developing in-house expertise in marketing them.

WASHINGTON: Newly approved federal standards for labeling foods 'organic' will mean increased PR efforts for these products and could push more PR firms into developing in-house expertise in marketing them.

The rules, approved by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in late December, three years after they were first proposed, will allow the Organic Trade Association (based in Greenfield, MA) to begin work on a national campaign to promote organic items, according to Katherine DiMatteo, the association's executive director.

Before starting its campaign, the association will talk to the USDA about its plans to promote organic foods and propose working together, DiMatteo said.

Organic food companies will spend the next 18 months developing marketing strategies that include new packaging with the 'USDA Organic' seal. Other more major PR efforts will occur next year, she added.

Agencies that work with organic food clients said they expect to see more PR firms seeking such business. 'There's an opportunity for (PR) firms that specialize in this industry,' confirmed Sylvia Tawse, a partner in the Fresh Ideas Group, which works with clients such as the Organic Trade Association.

The new regulations will mean major food companies that have moved into the organic area, such as H.J. Heinz, General Mills, Kelloggs and Philip Morris' Kraft unit, can now launch national campaigns to promote their organic offerings, added Lisa Bell, another Fresh Ideas partner.

Initial PR efforts will focus on educating consumers about what products will qualify for the organic label, predicted Kim Beeler, an account manager with Koopman Ostbo, a Portland, OR, integrated marketing firm that works with organic clients. 'There's definitely increased PR out there because this is big news for the industry.'

While organic producers step up PR, groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers of America will be watching to ensure campaigns don't equate organic with healthy or nutritional. USDA regulations do not account for these components of organic products.



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