ATLANTA -- Produce sales increased by double digits at many of the 274 Southeastern Supervalu-supplied stores participating in the 5 a Day Week promotion, said John Schildroth, produce promotions manager for the Southeast region, based here.
Those Supervalu retailers were just some of the 6,000 operators who used 5 a Day point-of-sale materials across the country during the fifth annual promotion, according to Chuck Sample, director of retail programs for the Produce for Better Health Foundation, Newark, Del.
The event is sponsored by the PBH and the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md. Like the year-round 5 a Day campaign it is part of, the weeklong promotion is targeted to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Supervalu's Schildroth told SN the sales benefits of 5 a Day Week do not fall off, but rather extend beyond the seven days to reap residual sales. "Whatever we do that week is a positive growth for next year. We don't fall below [those previously achieved sales increases]," he explained.
Indeed, the momentum of the promotion this year carried it past the seven days as well.
"This year, our theme was 'Discover 5 a Day' and we promoted it for the whole month of September," said Supervalu's Schildroth. "Last year, we did only the week; and then, we decided this is great for produce sales. The materials are expensive, so why have them for only a week?
"Participation is up by 60%," the wholesaler added. "It's about a 15% [sales increase] over last year.
"It's one of the best promotions, not only for consumer awareness but for our business. It's a great way to increase sales, for having a healthy America," said Schildroth.
Sales at Kelley's Supervalu, Niceville, Fla., for example, rose by 22%, reported Bruce Brandfon, executive vice president of the Southeast region. The retailer won first place in Supervalu's 5 a Day national merchandising contest -- "and that was on top of last year's record-breaking performance," said Brandfon.
It was Kelley's second first-place win, and the third first-place showing in a row for Supervalu's Southeast region. The retailers are hoping for a "four score in '98," said Brandfon.
According to Schildroth, activities during the 5 a Day Week promotion included store tours and a coloring contest for kids, sidewalk sales, parades and a television appearance by a produce manager. "We also did cross promotions, like [putting] oranges with the orange juice in the dairy case and bananas in the cereal aisle," he said.
Schildroth said he thought the promotion had "increased awareness quite extensively in smaller towns and rural towns."
Across the country, awareness of the 5 a Day message is up, according to the PBH's Sample. According to NCI figures, he explained, "In 1991, 8% [of the population] was aware of the 5 a Day message, while in 1997, 39% knew."
New elements added to the promotion this year include a 60-second news insert by Graham Kerr -- sent to 1,200 radio stations across the country -- that was distributed to retailers for use on the in-store radio, Sample said.
"We teamed up in New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco with food editors [to whom] retailers delivered gift baskets," he added. Sample noted the list of basket-delivering retailers included Safeway, Kroger Co., Dominick's Finer Foods and D'Agostino Supermarkets.
In most other locations, the 5 a Day promotion was only scheduled to last a week.
"We sent out a promotional kit -- 'Take the 5 a Day Challenge' -- with a sub theme -- 'On the Go' -- focusing on convenience with a busy lifestyle," explained the PBH's Sample. "Retailers incorporate the POS and ad copy structured around 5 a Day," he explained.
Some of the 5 a Day promotional materials used by Supervalu included "danglers, base wraps, recipe cards, different signage and Mylar balloons of several different types shaped like strawberries, apples, bananas, broccoli, carrots and peaches," said Schildroth. Supervalu was also visited by Ms. Chiquita and the Dole sassy lettuce mascot.
Schildroth said he expected the stores would continue to leave the promotional material up. "We did demos in almost all stores and had health checks." Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the PBH, said National 5 a Day week has grown tremendously since it was introduced in 1993. "It's great to see so many people participating in a nationwide celebration of eating more fruits and vegetables."
The PBH's Sample said although no concrete plans had been made for next year's 5 a Day Week promotion, "We'll be working on a more integrated plan."
Schildroth seemed certain of the wholesaler's participation in 1998, saying Supervalu would also "do a team effort next year.