A recent USDA study, called ““Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by School Lunch Participants,” looked at schools that offered increased levels of fruits and vegetables to students eating school lunches. The lead researcher found that while some students increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables, others did not eat any of the offered fruits and vegetables. The author suggested additional methods should be considered to help kids meet nutritional goals, including changes to the food environment, increased availability of healthy foods and education about good nutrition in classrooms.
“Changing the food environment” is code for hiding the Oreos and filling the fruit basket.
There may be kids (and grown men) somewhere in the world who choose the apple or baby peeled carrot over the chocolate chip cookie or Nutter Butters, but their number is few.
Produce marketers should consider marketing to the aspiration of parents who buy only fresh and healthy snacks for their kids. In a nod to Bolthouse’s marketing genius, why not suggest “Carrots - Buy and eat them like junk food.”
Admittedly, this type of “go to market” strategy may not sync up with the notions of retailers. After all, their “food environment” is sometimes about maximizing sales of chocolate frosted donuts.
But the produce industry and government feeding programs should stress the high aim for moms and dads to buy only healthy snacks for kids. Sure, consumers will fail - but set the goal high for them.
Beyond the bright lights of the supermarkets, industry marketers will have to work to get fresh produce on the menu of many more restaurants. That is where the young consumer is spending his food dollar on quarter pounders and the Oreo smoothies.
Excluding bad options at foodservice may be impossible, but populating the menu board with fresh produce items should a consuming passion as the industry battles for the stomachs of America’s youngsters.