The Canadian Produce Marketing Association is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year. And, the group just launched an extensive new consumer marketing campaign called “Fruits and Veggies - Mix it Up!” which will utilize television and radio ads, as well as online social media tools — including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, a blog and a dedicated website — to boost produce consumption by educating Canada's consumers about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.
SN Spoke with Melanie Richer, CPMA's Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications about the new campaign, as well as CPMA's upcoming convention and trade show in Vancouver, B.C. on May 12-14. This year's show will feature a new traceability learning center, where attendees can meet with experts on produce traceability. In addition, the three day show will include educational sessions targeted at businesses throughout Canada's produce supply chain, including supermarkets and foodservice operations. The following comments are excerpts from the interview.
SUPERMARKET NEWS: Could you begin by telling our U.S. readers about some of the issues that CPMA is working on this year?
Melanie Richer: Food safety is paramount to the industry right now, and it is key to all the work that we do. Traceability is a big issue as well. Government regulations that have a negative impact on trade are also always a concern.
Another one of the big things that CPMA has been working on is the launch of our new consumer campaign. It launched on March 1, and it's called “Fruits and Veggies, Mix It Up!” It's a campaign aimed at getting people to increase their consumption fruits and vegetables. And really, it's moving away from the 5 to 10 a Day For Better Health campaign, which was around for more than a decade. That program was about educating consumers as to what a serving [of fruits or vegetables] is, and how many servings they should have in their day.
We're really moving from that aspect of education — the awareness of the importance of eating more fruits and veggies — to the “how.” How do I get more veggies into my day and my kids' day? “Mix It Up!” is meant to be a fun, innovative, creative way to get people thinking about eating fruits and vegetables at every meal and every snack.
We had some focus group testing done around the [former] 5 to 10 a Day campaign, and around developing this new campaign, because fruit and vegetable consumption wasn't increasing as much as we would like it to.
So, we talked to consumers about what would help encourage them to eat more fruits and veggies, and this is what we came up with. [The focus groups] told us that they know that fruits and veggies are good for them, they know they're not eating enough, but what they wanted to know was how. “Tell me how. Give me easy tips, give me easy recipes to get my kids and myself eating more fruits and veggies.”
SN: You mentioned traceability. CPMA has been partnered with the U.S. Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association on the Produce Traceability Initiative during the past few years. What is the importance of having unity between the Canadian and U.S. industries on this issue right now?
MR: It's important that we are partners. Our industry is a global industry, and problems that affect other countries will affect us as well. And it's important for us, given who our membership base is, that we continue to be involved with this program.
One of the things we will be doing at our convention is hosting a traceability area, where people involved with the traceability initiative will be, and [attendees who] want to learn more about it can go. There will also be informational sessions for anyone who wants to learn more.
SN: What else can attendees expect to see at the upcoming show?
MR: It's our 85th annual show, and it is Canada's largest produce industry event. We're expecting over 225 international exhibitors who will be showcasing a variety of products and services. We will also have keynote speeches from author and futurist Frank Feather and CTV/TSN Sports Commentator Brian Williams, and business sessions such as “Capturing New Customers and Building Profits with Produce,” for our foodservice delegates, and a panel discussion on trends and opportunities in the ethnic market. We'll also have a new recipe contest this year [for exhibitors].
SN: I noticed the panel discussion when looking over the program. It indicated that the ethnic market is the fastest growing produce market in Canada. Could you tell us more about that opportunity for growers and retailers?
MR: There seems to be more of a demand for exotics, although I don't know if you can really call them “exotics” now, because they're becoming more and more common. You can go into really any grocery store and pick up varieties of fruits and vegetables that not that long ago we wouldn't have seen here in Canada. It's a new opportunity that our industry is addressing in the marketplace.