Members of the produce industry are working to raise awareness of women’s health in advance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Megan McKenna, the Orlando, Fla.-based National Mango Board’s director of marketing, said breast cancer awareness is important at the board because members want to better understand how mangoes affect the disease.
The board is working on preliminary research on mangoes’ effects on breast cancer.
Greg Smith, marketing communications manager for Glenville, Ga.-based Bland Farms, said the company gets involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month because Bland makes it its mission to help others.
“It seems almost everyone in some way or another has been affected by breast cancer, whether personally or secondhand, having experienced a loved one struggle with the disease,” Smith said.
“We feel fortunate to be in a position as a business to contribute to an organization like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which is committed to eradicating the disease, and we are very proud to help in any way that we can.”
Bland Farms transitions to pink sweet onion packaging, which allows the company to catch shoppers’ attention in stores. The packaging features information on breast cancer.
Smith said he hopes the information on the packaging helps keep breast cancer on people’s minds and brings a cure closer to reality.
Shuman Produce, Reidsville, Ga., has been supporting breast cancer awareness since 2010.
This year, the company is creating an online presence by reaching out to consumers on the Web and through social media, along with donating money and turning all of its packaging pink.
“We’re proud to be a part of breast cancer awareness campaigns as a way to give back to our customers,” director of marketing Adam Brady said.
“Shuman Produce firmly believes in giving back to the customers that support our products, and our breast cancer awareness program is a part of that.”
Also joining the pink packaging club in October is Vick Family Farms. The Wilson, N.C.-based company plans on selling its Pure Gold label sweet potatoes as the Pink Pure Gold label for the second year.
A percentage of the sales from the Pink Pure Gold sweet potatoes will go to Wilmed Healthcare Foundation’s Mother’s Day Mammogram Program to pay for mammograms for women who can’t afford them, said partner Charlotte Vick.
“This is a way we can give back to our community,” Vick said.
“We feel we have been very blessed in our business. We have family and friends that have been affected by breast cancer in some way. Our community has been very supportive of our family and our business over the last 39 years and we try and give back to show our appreciation.”
The Rocky Ford, Colo.-based Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation, started in 2011, has been raising money and awareness for breast cancer since 2012.
The foundation, a nonprofit organization, has growers who grow pink pumpkins across the U.S. The foundation encourages people to purchase pink pumpkins in support of breast cancer awareness.
The pumpkin growers agree to donate a percentage of the price of every pumpkin sold to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation.
The foundation then selects a recipient of the grant money and it is directed to an organization that is involved in breast cancer research, Jen Velasquez, marketing communications manager for Minnetrista, Minn.-based Golden Sun Marketing, said on behalf of the foundation.
The pink variety, Porcelain Doll F1, was developed during cross-breeding research.
This year, the foundation is working on many projects. One is the second year of its Future Farmers of America and 4-H partnership.
The partnership has led to 85 chapters across the U.S. and each chapter will give at least 50% of the proceeds it makes from the pumpkins back to the foundation, Velasquez said.
The chapters grow and sell the pumpkins, not only helping raise awareness for breast cancer, but also teaching children about pumpkin growing.
“Unfortunately, breast cancer is one of those diseases that has affected so many people, directly and indirectly,” Velasquez said.
“As members of the produce industry, we want to be a part of the cure, in any way we can, and by giving funds to these wonderful researchers year after year, we hope we can get closer to a cure.”
Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson’s Robinson Fresh continues to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month by donating to local breast cancer research organizations through its MelonUp! Pink Ribbon Watermelon program. In its seventh year, the program has donated almost $950,000 to the various organizations.
Watermelon contains the antioxidant lycopene. The U.S. Department of Health says that scientists have found that diets high in lycopene correlate with reduced incidence of certain types of cancer, said Josh Knox, category general manager.
“Through the MelonUp! Pink Ribbon Watermelon program, Robinson Fresh is able to provide retail customers with a unique program that allows them to give back to their local communities and promote watermelon as a year-round, healthy item,” Knox said.
Through the program, the company also sponsors the Twin Cities Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure series, which was in May.