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[nafex] Sacrificing Flavor

    I brought up the article in the "Oregonian" that you cited, and read
it over a couple of times.  I strongly support your berry farmers, and
good tasting strawberries, but this article raises about as many
questions as it answers.
1.  I understand that the varieties of strawberries grown in Oregon are
quite different than many grown elsewhere --- better colored, better
flavored, and softer.  They are much more like the berries that backyard
growers try to grow at home.  But consumers don't automatically know
that.  They have to be told by someone, and that involves advertising,
either at the producer level, or by buyers and processors.  Because the
fruit is softer, that may eliminate shipping to distant markets, and
mean that the berries must be sold in regional markets or to local
processors.  I have noticed that Birds-Eye brand frozen strawberries,
for example, are of superior quality, but the label doesn't explain
why.  Organic fruit and vegetable growers have managed to differentiate
their products to obtain premium prices, and there are some (but not I)
who would say that they have done so with far less justification than
the growers of high-quality Oregon strawberries.
2.  The article mentions that Oregon strawberries command a price
premium of 10-20 cents per pound, but is superior quality the only
reason for that?  Why are production costs in Oregon higher, for some
reason or reasons, than those in California and Washington?  (They are
obviously going to be higher than Mexico because of labor costs).
3.  If buyers want firmer berries, such as those developed in Mexico,
why can't Oregon farmers grow them too?  They would not have to
eliminate the high-quality soft varieties completely, but if there is a
danger of going out of business, some adjustments to the variety mix
appear prudent.
4.  As the summer season advanced, why did the growers hold out so
strongly for their usual price premium?  Was this just a costly game of
financial chicken?  I can understand why they would be reluctant to set
the precedent of lowering their prices, but to do so at the risk of
total loss seems to have been unwise.  They might want to reduce
plantings next season due to market conditions, but first you've got to
stay in business.
5.  It is possible, through product differentiation, to educate
consumers to buy better tasting fruit.  The success of new apple
varieties such as Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonagold and Gala in supermarkets
over the past 10-15 is illustrative .  Maybe what Oregon growers need is
better P.R..

Best Rgds, Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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