Early exposure sets kids’ habits for a lifetime

08/09/2013 02:05:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Cristie Mather, Pear Bureau NorthwestCourtesy Pear Bureau NorthwestIt is important to introduce children to a variety of fruits and vegetables to create lifelong healthy eating habits, says Cristie Mather, director of communications for Pear Bureau Northwest. “It’s a way to cultivate future pear consumers,” she says.Reaching children with fruit and vegetable promotions is crucial, according to marketers.

“We know there’s a lot of research out there that the earlier you get children involved in their diet choices, the longer those healthy habits will stick as they become adults,” said Kristen Stevens, senior vice president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, Hockessin, Del.

Others agree.

“It’s important to expose kids to a variety of fruits and vegetables when they are young to create lifelong healthy eating habits,” said Cristie Mather, director of communications for Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore.

In addition, introducing children to various produce items helps drive future consumption.

“It’s a way to cultivate future pear consumers,” Mather said.

Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, Wash., agrees.

“Kids used to be introduced to pears through a canned product, and no matter what you think about canned pears it was an exposure point that isn’t really happening anymore,” he said.

“We need to build pear customers for the future,” he said.

Megan McKenna, director of marketing for the National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., said that by reaching the younger generation one can establish a long-term connection.

“It is important for us to talk to moms and kids because children are the next generation of mango consumers. If we can get children passionate about mangoes, they will be lifelong consumers,” she said.


Health needs

However, marketers are also concerned with addressing the childhood obesity epidemic.

“Child nutrition is just critical. We have to bring health and nutrition into our society, and produce is the way to do it,” Pepperl said.

It’s about helping parents encourage their children to eat healthfully.

“If they help prepare the recipe, they are often more open to eating it,” Stevens said.

Pepperl also said he believes cooking with kids is important.

“We have recipes on the website, and the QR codes on the packages will take you there,” he said.

Stemilt’s kid-friendly recipes are very simple, with a heavy emphasis on being visually appealing to kids.

“We try to make the fruit become fun, for example, by making smiles with slices and peanut butter to help kids enjoy making them. They are very simple and fun,” Pepperl said.



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