UPDATED: CPMA stresses ‘Half Your Plate’ initiative(UPDATED, 7:30 p.m.) VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When Canadian Produce Marketing Association president Ron Lemaire announced the group’s new consumer marketing campaign, he stressed two things: the simplicity of the message and the complexity of all the groups involved in pushing the message.

Lemaire said the Half Your Plate initiative, which saw its “soft launch” at the CPMA’s annual convention and trade show April 3, will be a long-term program because of those foundations.

“We all know in this world of multimedia and access to information, we are regularly bombarded with ‘Do this,’ ‘Do that,’ ‘This is what’s good for you,’ ‘This is what’s not good for you,’ ‘You should be doing this today,’ ‘You should be doing that tomorrow,’” Lemaire said.

“We have to cut through that clutter and deliver one simple message.”

Although CPMA and other fresh fruit and vegetable organizations have had numerous campaigns to lift consumption, Half Your Plate relies heavily on health organizations outside the industry, in an effort to keep momentum going with a consistent message at many key points of interaction with consumers.

“Most of all, we have to create something that’s impossible to stop,” Lemaire said, “with momentum to enable the industry and partners to drive the message across Canada.”

UPDATED: CPMA stresses ‘Half Your Plate’ initiativeRepresentatives from some of those organizations attended the April 3 luncheon when Lemaire discussed the program, including:

  • The Canadian Cancer Society;
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada;
  • Canadian Public Health Association;
  • Regional Canadian produce associations; and
  • CPMA’s marketing committee.

Sam Silvestro from Wal-Mart Canada, a member of the group’s marketing committee, said he hopes the program catches on, but then quickly amended the statement.

“I know it will catch on,” Silvestro said. “I’m just hoping with that, the consumer understands just how important fruits and vegetables are to their lifestyle and they are healthy.”

Specifics of the plan were not released, but Lemaire said the rollout will continue this year with a website and social media support.

To get the ball rolling, he Tweeted a picture with the crowd in the background from the stage during his presentation.

The program is similar to the MyPlate.gov initiative introduced in the U.S. in May 2011, but Lemaire said a Health Canada program that seeks to define what a well-balanced meal should like has also been available for several years. As for CPMA’s adoption of the program, it is the result of a three-year effort to address a simple question.

“What are we doing to help Canadians, to help families and our kids, to understand the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables?”

Paul Renaud, CPMA communications manager, said the program won’t compete with Health Canada’s or USDA’s half-a-plate initiatives, because they essentially have the same message and goals. The website, halfyourplate.ca, has shopping tips and a “from A to Z” listings on fruits and vegetables, outlining nutrition information, handling tips and serving sizes.

“(Half Your Plate) is basically a consumer-centric idea that plays on simplicity,” Renaud said.

Sue Lewis, director of market development for CPMA, said the program resonates not only with consumers, but the health agency partners.

“We also looked at the USDA MyPlate program, because it’s a very successful program,” Lewis said. “It has grassroots appeal, it’s simple and we are a North American industry, so it didn’t make sense to compete against that.”