FRED as key player in many generic commodity promotion programs


“Got Milk,” and “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” are two examples of slogans used for promoting commodities.  Such promotions, commonly referred to as generic advertising, are industry-wide programs intended to disseminate information about a commodity for the purpose of enhancing the demand for that commodity, and these programs are an integral part of the U.S. agricultural system. Many commodity industries involve small- to medium-size producers that warrant joint efforts to promote common attributes of their commodities.

Since the early 1970s, the UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department (FRED), through the coordination of Ronald W. Ward, now Emeritus Professor, has been a key player in the development, implementation, and evaluation of most of the national and many international generic promotion programs. The programs are mandatory, and since 1996, the law requires an independent, scientific evaluation of all national programs to determine if they have been effective.

All generic advertising programs have four basic dimensions. They must:

  1. have an effective administration system,
  2. use messaging that is consistent with industry needs,
  3. be effective, and
  4. be equitable.

FRED’s role differs with each commodity but can include public policy, education, extension, research, and networking both domestically and internationally.

These programs have evolved and expanded over the last four decades and FRED has been a major contributor to the development, implementation, and evaluation of many of these programs.  FRED research was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court case by the USDA against the generic commodity promotion programs that ruled in favor of maintaining these programs.

The department’s contributions are far-reaching and recognized internationally, and there are explicit empirical results that show the return on investment (ROI) for these types of programs. Internationally, the department’s research within the area of generic advertising campaigns has reached five continents through presentations, research fora, seminars and other collaborations.