Fresh produce commodity organizations and companies that are not working with retailers’ dietitians have a hole in their marketing plans, according to food professionals who recently gathered for the annual Shopping for Health Summit.
Three entities that are tuned in to the role supermarket dietitians can play are the California Strawberry Commission, the National Onion Association and Grimmway Farms — all three attended the summit in late April and presented information about the health benefits of their fresh produce.
Retail dietitians influence consumers’ purchases and are therefore crucial to produce promotion, said Chris Christian, vice president of the California Strawberry Commission, Watsonville. He said this was the second year for the commission to participate in the summit.
“The conference provides a unique opportunity to engage supermarket dietitians in a small group, share information they can use to educate their shoppers, and build long-term relationships with these important influencers,” Christian said.
Nancy Tringali Piho organized the summit through her Washington, D.C., firm Nancy Tringali & Associates Inc., which provides consulting and marketing services to the food and beverage industries. She said the event included 20 dietitians from grocery retailers representing more than 12,000 individual stores in 44 states and Mexico.
“The supermarket (dietitians) are telling us they need more produce-based initiatives to continue to promote fruits and vegetable consumption,” Tringali said.
Bob Borda, vice president for Grimmway Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., said the event provided great opportunities and Grimmway will definitely participate in future summits.
“(It) was a great opportunity to connect with the industry’s leading dietitians to discuss the major retail initiatives around health and nutrition,” Borda said.
“The one-on-one conversations with the leading nutritionists and suppliers alike provided solid marketing strategies around unique ways to motivate the consumer to choose nutritious food and snack alternatives.”