Wendy Smith, manager, business administration for BASF, said the evaluation of the grower loyalty portion of the Harvest Partners program had been taking place over the past year.

“Last fall, BASF made a commitment to continue looking for ways to strengthen our channel focus throughout 2003 and beyond,” said Bill Wisdom, BASF group vice president. “Like our customers, we are focusing on core competencies; delivering a differentiating offer; setting reasonable business expectations; and responsibly managing costs.

“In the context of today’s marketplace, the Harvest Partners preferred customer program does not meet the needs of our channel customers or their grower customers.”

“The dynamics in agriculture have changed dramatically since the time the Harvest Partners program was launched 11 years ago,” said Smith. “The Harvest Partners preferred customer program, which offered growers award credits that could be redeemed for merchandise and services, is not consistent with our channel-focused strategy today.”

“This decision will strengthen our offering because it allows us to more strategically focus our resources and efforts,” Wisdom said. “Sound, strategic adjustments and a long-term commitment to the industry we serve are critical for the success of any organization.”

As an indicator of the continued BASF commitment to agriculture, the company has, in the past year alone, introduced no fewer than six new crop-protection compounds to the marketplace. In addition, BASF in March completed its purchase of Regent insecticide from Bayer CropScience.

“We believe these investments act as a clear and tangible expression of our commitment to bring new technologies to agriculture,” Wisdom said.

Point-redemption process

Smith said efforts soon will be under way to notify all constituent audiences about the program’s discontinuation.

“We will be aggressively communicating this to members and giving them every opportunity to redeem their outstanding Harvest Points award credits,” Smith said. “Even members with no existing award credits will be thanked for their participation and alerted to the program’s conclusion.”

Smith said post cards and letters would be going out to just under 1 million Harvest Partners program members in coming days.

The deadline for redeeming points is Feb. 27, 2004. Smith noted that members are able to redeem Harvest Points on a wide array of merchandise from the Harvest Partners 2003 Rewards Catalog.

Harvest Partners members should visit www.harvestpartners.com and watch their mailboxes for more information on how to redeem their points.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com