Broccoli? OK, Mr. President, we believe you - The Packer

Broccoli? OK, Mr. President, we believe you

07/26/2013 09:15:00 AM
Chris Koger

Chris Koger, News EditorChris Koger, News EditorHere’s something we know to be true: Politicians sometimes lie.

Or at least they’re not forthcoming with the whole truth. It’s called “spin,” and political careers rely on it.

So the recent proclamation by President Barack Obama that broccoli is his favorite food didn’t raise many eyebrows around here.

That can’t be true ... can it?

Anyway, this slipped out during the Kids’ State Dinner, part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to combat childhood obesity.

When I heard this, I thought about Joe Wilson’s September 2009 “You lie!” outburst, interrupting Obama during a joint session of Congress.

Schoolchildren are an easier crowd, though. Not a peep of disbelief.

True or not — I really don’t have a reason to doubt the president (in this case) — the pervasive message from the White House should be commended by the industry at every turn, and this public endorsement of broccoli is just the tip of the iceberg.

The first lady’s Let’s Move initiative has engaged the industry like no other previous administration’s program that I can remember.

Through donations to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, companies are finding a direct link to help boost consumption. Not too many years ago, growers weren’t exactly in the loop when it came to ensuring fresh fruits and vegetables were part of school meals and snacks.

I admit I’ve had more than a few chuckles about how the administration’s healthy eating message seems forced: the YouTube video of (the then-) U.S. Department of Agriculture’s deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan and White House assistant chef Sam Kass touting plastic tunnels allowing year-round vegetable production in “any climate,” and the use of the White House pastry chef to promote healthful eating.

I used to have the image of Michelle Obama swooping in to slap a Ho-Ho out of a fat kid’s hands when hearing about a new event highlighting the anti-obesity campaign.

Not so anymore. Of course, I support programs that help fruit and vegetable marketers sell more product, but it’s more than that.

The Obamas are not only putting political muscle behind the fight against childhood obesity, they’re inviting the industry to pitch in.

A side note: How things have changed since the Clinton years. Remember the “Saturday Night Live” skit with Clinton campaigning at a fast-food restaurant, stopping to sneak french fries and cheeseburgers off diner’s trays?

———

The news that the Campbell Soup Co. plans to introduce more than 200 products in the next few months surely has retailers’ heads spinning.

Can you imagine the meetings that are going on with retailers and their contacts with the soup giant? Where to put all this stuff?

It seems that new offerings won’t be limited to the soup section — reports included mentions of Goldfish cracker-enhanced mac and cheese and Thai Ginger infused broths.

That includes the produce aisle, because of its 2012 purchase of Bolthouse Farms.

Campbell’s plans to “pour more marketing” into the Bolthouse division, which includes fresh carrots, juices and salad dressing. The company didn’t elaborate on the specifics, whether new products and new marketing campaigns are on the way.

It’s been three years since Bolthouse unveiled its “Eat ’Em Like Junk Food” campaign that sought a head-to-head competition with candy bars, chips and other vending machine staples.

It was an ambitious campaign with a goal of up to $25 million in spending (inviting other carrot marketers to join the fight).

Bolthouse even released an app — a game that featured baby peeled carrots as fuel in a wacky shopping cart race — and Halloween-themed snack packs designed for trick-or-treaters.

It will be interesting to see if Campbell’s will dust off that campaign and run with it. Bolthouse laid the groundwork. Will the company expand it past baby peeled carrots?

———

Here’s another example of how demand for locally grown product continues to encroach in more areas of our lives: Live Nation, the world’s largest promoter and amphitheater operator (according to Hollywood Reporter) has made arrangements with growers to supply more than three dozen venues with locally grown food.

It used to be the best bet for such an offering was the burritos and brownies sold by Deadheads in the parking lot before/after a show.

This summer, Live Nation will sell everything from hot dogs to vegetarian meals, something that “surely will play well with a wide range of artists and music fans,” according to Hollywood Reporter.

One of the biggest hurdles to success, in my mind, was addressed up front by Live Nation: The locally grown items won’t be more expensive.

As the locally grown market becomes more saturated, growers will need to consider different marketing angles, such as nontraditional outlets.

ckoger@thepacker.com

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AK    
July, 29, 2013 at 05:13 PM

REALLY?! For crying out loud, what a piece of partisan garbage. The Obama administration is doing more for the produce industry by encouraging healthy eating than any president in recent history (as a school kid, I remember ketchup was considered a vegetable - go Reagan! I am sure you'd hop right in line to support that nonsense) and you will only begrudgingly accept its help, getting a few jabs in on the way out. Disgusting.

Chris Koger    
July, 29, 2013 at 05:28 PM

Whoa, hey now. If you read through the first paragraphs you'll see that I said just exactly what you're saying: " ... the pervasive message from the White House should be commended by the industry at every turn, and this public endorsement of broccoli is just the tip of the iceberg. The first lady’s Let’s Move initiative has engaged the industry like no other previous administration’s program that I can remember." "The Obamas are not only putting political muscle behind the fight against childhood obesity, they’re inviting the industry to pitch in." By the way, this isn't the only time I've given kudos to the administration's efforts. I've even urged trade industry organizations to invite Michelle Obama to speak at their conferences. Chris Koger

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