Touting health benefits bring sales gains

04/10/2014 10:19:00 AM
Tom Karst

Tom KarstIf you were living under a rock, there is a chance you might not have heard of a recent study from the United Kingdom indicating great health results (longer life) from eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The editorial in last week’s edition of The Packer addressed the significance of the study. In response to all the publicity, British retailer Sainsbury recently put out a press release touting sales gains in the produce department linked to publicity about the study.

The release said Sainsbury’s fresh fruit and vegetable category enjoyed double digit growth “over the last couple of days” after the release of the study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggesting consumers up their fruit and veggie consumption.

“We’ve long been committed to helping customers to eat their 5 a day and it seems that this new study has sparked some new enthusiasm for the challenge,” Charlotte Rhodes, Sainsbury’s Head of Produce, said in the release.

Sainsbury reported bean and celery sales were up 116%, onions were 95% higher, carrots 69% up and cucumbers and red peppers at better than 40% improved over the previous period.

The health study got big media play here in the U.S. and probably even greater attention in Britain. The bump in sales again suggests that marketing the health benefits of fruits and vegetables can pay off. As Sainsbury’s impressive sales gains suggest, the impulse by retailers, grower-shippers, and promotion bodies to tout the health benefits of fruits and vegetables is not merely altruistic.

 

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I recently hosted a “chat” in The Packer Market about the Sesame Street/PMA promotion. The chat, also hosted on Twitter under the hashtag #sesame, was another chance for industry to take measure of the initiative. Check out the conversation at http://thepackermarket.com/. Find a link there to an upcoming PMA web seminar about the initiative slated for April 17.

During the chat I asked what supermarkets are most likely to embrace the Sesame Street promotion. One participant perceptively suggested that leadership for the Sesame Street campaign must come from Wal-Mart, or it won’t happen at all. That’s a heavy lift, and one tends to sympathize with that burden placed on the Arkansas-based mega retailer. After all, Wal-Mart is typically assigned the duty of speeding the pace of collective industry progress, such as the implementation of the Produce Traceability Initiative. Even so, Wal-Mart again must step up to the plate if the Sesame Street/PMA produce promotion campaign has any chance to create a national impression.


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