Produce gets fun for kids - The Packer

Produce gets fun for kids

08/05/2011 02:55:00 PM
Amelia Freidline

With the spotlight shining on healthy eating and childhood obesity, food marketers say there’s never been a better time to promote fresh fruits and vegetables to kids.

“There are so many different things happening, from the federal government down to grassroots organizations, this is really the time to continue doing things that are working well as well as plug into other programs,” said Cristie Mather, director of communications for Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore.

For pear promoters, that includes partnering with the Produce for Better Health Foundation on the half a plate of produce initiative, and strengthening its partnership with the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids program.

In October, the bureau plans to set up sampling stations at YMCAs throughout the country. It’s also revamping the popular “fun and games” section on its USA Pears website.

Power of Disney

With children influencing more than $50 billion in retail purchases each year, partnering with powerful brands such as Disney is another winning strategy for growers who’ve become Disney licensees since Jan. 1.

“Working with Disney directly under the new program is more work,” said Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing in Chelan, Wash., “but it means we have direct access to key Disney people to help us create programs we think will help drive our products at the store level.”

Representing the Disney brand also forces companies to become more actively involved with retailers in selling and merchandising to kids, said Tim Dayka, managing member of Dayka & Hackett LLC, a fruit grower-shipper in Reedley, Calif., who’s promoted fresh grapes with Disney for the past three years.

“For a supplier like ourselves, it opens up a new opportunity to target not only a very important demographic, children, but the retailer receives tremendous benefits from increased sales and picks up a significant amount of business,” Dayka said.

Power of moms

Making fruits and vegetables interesting and relevant to kids is also a way to help moms, Riggan said.

Moms are now the focus of the Orlando, Fla.-based Produce for Kids organization, said marketing manager Amanda Keefer.

“The word ‘healthy’ isn’t a positive word in most kids’ vocabularies, but the produce industry is providing lots of kid-friendly products that are great for the lunch box, and our Ideal Meal recipes make it easier for moms to cook healthier dishes at home,” Keefer said.

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