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Del Monte Fresh Produce talked to me today about renewing their successful Teacher Monday: Cash for Classrooms program this year. Del Monte Fresh has been an ace at integrated marketing campaigns during the past couple of years. With Teacher Monday, each Monday, for five consecutive weeks in October and November 2010, the company awarded $1000 of cash and produce to ten individual K-12 public school teachers in the U.S., Canada and Central America, based on the results of an online contest. Teachers could use the money for school supplies, and use the fruit to teach their classrooms about healthy eating.

TeacherMonday

Teachers could enter the contest by writing a short essay on how the funds would be spent, and winning teachers were selected based on the number of votes they received online. With the prize money going to a good cause, the campaign went viral quickly. More than 12,000 teachers registered, more than 1 million votes were cast. One hundred and twenty five blogs reaching 500,000 readers discussed the contest, and more than 350,000 unique visitors went to Del Monte's consumer site, www.fruits.com. It's hardly a surprise the company is planning to renew the contest this year and redouble its efforts in social media marketing.

Colorful Harvest has been around for a few years, but the company continues to grow, and this was one of my first opportunities to meet them first-hand. Basically, they have taken heritage crops—old world varieties of corn, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries, carrots, etc — and used natural plant-to-plant breeding processes to bring some of the qualities of those plants into a modern growing operation. The results are visually stimulating, to say the least.

ColorfulHarvest
There's red corn, purple artichokes, purple broccoli, strawberries that are red all-the-way through, and a rainbow of different shades of carrot, to name a few. Heirloom agriculture took off a few years ago with turkeys, pigs, chickens and other farm animal breeds. And, so far, Colorful Harvest looks like it's having some success with heritage varieties of popular vegetables, particularly with kids.

HarvestMark, the electronic traceability provider, invited me to their booth to discuss their new DailyShopper program, which monitors the visual quality of produce items at retail, monitors the amount of time that it takes items to get from the field to retail, and correlates store location and harvesting and packing data with product quality and freshness information.

Existing HarvestMark customers can opt in to the program, allowing a team of HarvestMark's auditors to scan their products and collect this data at retail. It's another example of how traceability solutions don't have to be exclusively about food safety and recalls. This offers the ability to monitor how product quality and shelf-life is impacted when a fruit or vegetable is transported to different regions of the country.

“If we can deliver a business value … [traceability] is not a cost, it's an investment,” explained Scott Carr, president and CEO of HarvestMark.

In addition, HarvestMark recently announced that it would no longer charge per-case fees for its basic Produce Traceability Initiative-compliant labeling system, and would instead only charge for its hardware bundles, starting at $3,250, and an annual platform fee.

Contributors

David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Jon Springer

Jon Springer has been writing about food, food retailers and food retailing for more than 10 years, and is in his second tour of duty with Supermarket News. His prior experience includes covering the...
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