Open Sesame - The Packer

Open Sesame

11/01/2013 10:31:00 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

First lady Michelle Obama with Muppets.Courtesy Produce Marketing AssociationFirst lady Michelle Obama mugs with Muppets during an Oct. 30 ceremony announcing Sesame Street characters will help promote retail fruit and vegetables sales.During Produce Marketing Association chief executive officer Bryan Silbermann’s state of the industry address a few weeks ago at Fresh Summit, Sam Kass, senior policy adviser on nutrition for first lady Michelle Obama, referred to the decade-old Broccoli/Elmo study.

The study claimed to show kids would choose vegetables over cookies if “Sesame Street” characters were associated with the healthier food. The study was weak in scientific terms and mostly forgotten, so it was odd that Kass mentioned it in New Orleans.

It makes sense now.

Through a new ground-breaking agreement, the produce industry has a virtually risk-free opportunity to test the theory for itself.

The agreement joins the nonprofit Sesame Workshop, PMA and Partnership for a Healthier America and gives fruit and vegetable marketers the use of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee starting sometime next year. 

Obama said the goal is to have “our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips.”

Silbermann said Oct. 31 that “The impact will be will huge, and the value will be priceless to the industry.”

It’s good to be optimistic, but the value will have to be proven for the effect to be huge.

One of PMA’s jobs is to provide analysis to the Partnership for a Healthy America, with metrics including the products using the characters, number of companies participating and estimated sales.

The produce industry, whether using the characters or not, will be eager to see the metrics as well.

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