WILMINGTON, Del. — Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the Produce For Better Health Foundation's Fruits and Veggies — More Matters campaign, and leaders at PBH say that they continue to be pleased with how supermarket retailers are working with them to drive produce sales through nutrition education.
Since the More Matters initiative was launched, retailers have gotten involved in promoting the campaign through direct involvement in the foundation, as well as in-store activities, point-of-sale signs and other efforts to educate shoppers and drive traffic to the program's website, which now includes a variety of new features targeted at moms and kids.
In particular, Schnuck Markets, St. Louis, was selected by PBH as a “Retailer Role Model,” specifically for the company's creative outreach to moms and families to encourage more fruit and vegetable purchases and consumption.
“At the board meeting, we just want to highlight those retailers that are outstanding and recognize them. In this case, the single retailer, Schnucks, achieved what we would call role-model status,” explained Bryant Wynes, senior executive, retail marketing, PBH.
“We had several retailers last year that kind of rose to the top, if you will, and Schnucks was the one that really stood out for a variety of reasons. We look at a variety of different things when we make that designation.”
Schnucks stood out across the board in its support of the foundation and its Fruits and Veggies — More Matters initiative through the level of advertising support that the retailer has given the program, its efforts to drive people to the fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org website and its use of materials at the point of sale.
“Schnucks was one of the first retailers to start putting the fruit and veggies [More Matters] logo on private-label products outside the produce department. They were putting it on private-label canned goods. And, of course, they've been involved with the PBH Foundation as a board member and involved in the executive committee and so on for quite some time,” Wynes said.
“They contribute with information and content for our consumer website, so again, overall, just all of the things, as we go down the list, Schnucks is the one that I would like other retailers to model themselves after.”
Elizabeth Pivonka, PBH president, said she is hopeful that more retailers will reach this status this year.
“Rather than just do point-of-sale signs, we're trying to encourage them to go deeper into their organizations and do more things,” Pivonka said.
“We try to monitor it on a regular basis and give it a final assessment at the end of each calendar year. Our hope is that Schnucks will continue to be a role model in the future, and that we'll be able to say that other retailers have reached that status as well. Several others have been doing a great job, they just didn't quite fill all of the criteria that we were looking for.”
PBH has been happy with its efforts with retailers this year, according to Wynes. Currently, approximately 60 retailers are licensed and working with the program.
“Most of the retailers in the U.S. are involved with supporting the program in various ways,” Wynes told SN.
“One of the big things that we keep working on is making sure that they're very aware of all of the information and tips. It's consumer information and consumer tips that they can integrate into their advertising and outreach efforts. There's just been really great support, and we're just plugging away with the retailers to have them continue expanding on what they've been doing over the past year.”
PBH has also re-emphasized its effort to focus on moms, who were always envisioned as a target audience for the Fruits and Veggies — More Matters brand.
“The reason we selected moms is that they're still the ones who primarily decide what the family eats,” Pivonka told SN. “Even though there are more and more men involved today, mom is still the gatekeeper to what the family eats, by and large. And she's also the one who's the gatekeeper for the health of the family. So for those reasons, we thought moms were critically important, not to mention the fact that moms are — even if the industry doesn't realize it — the target audience for most [suppliers] as well.”
More specifically, as PBH moved forward in its outreach efforts to consumers this year, it had younger moms in mind, because they are still in the information-seeking stage of child rearing and still rely heavily on the Internet as a source of information on health and nutrition.
“Without a lot of advertising dollars, that was one inexpensive way we could reach moms,” Pivonka added.
PBH also recently conducted a survey of new moms and found that over 90% of respondents agree that it is important to include fruits and vegetables in their daily family meals, despite the fact that over half acknowledged that their families are still eating too few. That disconnect indicates that many of these moms may be looking for ideas to help them incorporate more produce into their family's diet.
The Fruits and Veggies — More Matters interactive website offers recipes, serving ideas and shopping advice, as well as an online community for moms to share tips and ideas about including more fruits and vegetables in their families' diets. Visitors can also sign up for a free newsletter that keeps them updated with news about produce nutrition, tips on what's in season, and expert advice from dietitians such as Pathmark's Jacqueline Gomes.
PBH also plans to add streaming video featuring produce celebrity Michael Marks — known as “Your Produce Man” to local network television viewers in Texas and California — talking about what to do with different fruits and vegetables, such as how to buy, store, select and prepare them.
Because 90% of Americans consume fewer fruits and vegetables than the recommended daily amount, PBH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teamed up to introduce “Get Smart! Fruits and Veggies — More Matters,” which was unveiled to commemorate National Nutrition Month and the one-year anniversary of Fruits and Veggies — More Matters. The series includes simple tips and easy-to-read advice on topics including ways to help kids eat more fruits and vegetables, ways to entertain at parties using more produce, and eating fruits and vegetables as on-the-go snacks.
PBH has also launched additional interactive content for kids on its main website, and added a fourth site to PBH's growing online family, foodchamps.org. Foodchamps.org allows PBH to interact directly with children through games and activities that teach them fruits and veggies can be fun. The new site was designed with children ages 2 through 8 in mind, and will encourage them to eat more fruits and veggies as they play games, fill in coloring pages and participate in other online activities. The website was a collaborative project developed by Imagination Farms, Kidzsmart and PBH.
Similarly, Fruits and Veggies — More Matters last year partnered with the Produce Marketing Association to develop a program with Scholastic Corp. “Crunch the Numbers” is a program that uses classroom handouts and online lessons to help students practice math while also teaching them to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets.
PBH also has an Adopt-A-School Community Outreach Program featuring the Fruits and Veggies — More Matters Creative Pockets teaching kits. Because many schools would like the education materials but cannot afford them, Pivonka suggests that supermarket retailers might like to get involved.
“Any supermarkets that might want to adopt their local schools, this Adopt-A School program would be a great way for supermarkets to reach out to their local communities,” Pivonka said.
As the initiative's new year begins, PBH is focusing on promoting Fruits and Veggies — More Matters through retailers, suppliers, public relations efforts, educator outreach, Web work and its State Health Department outreach as well.
“[We're focusing on] continued outreach with the media, and continuing to get the supply side of the industry to put the logo on packaging,” said Pivonka. “Because some of our research shows that the way people became aware of 5 A Day in the past was through supermarkets, magazines and packaging.”
“We're finding that's the same with Fruits and Veggies — More Matters, that supermarkets, magazines and packaging are still the primary way that they're learning about the campaign.”