Q&A with Produce Growers on Supporting Consumers New Year’s Resolutions

With the new year upon us, people are re-committing to eating healthy and getting in shape. Retailers can help shoppers stick to their goals by offering healthy produce and reminding consumers of its benefits with nutritional tips and meal ideas.

Here are some tips from four produce growers on how retailers can help consumers keep their new year resolutions on track:

Suzanne Wolter, director of marketing
Rainier Fruit Co.
Selah, Wash.

 The MyPlate icon has created new opportunities for retailers to promote healthy eating options, says Suzanne Wolter.

The new USDA dietary guidelines promoting the ‘make half your plate fruits and vegetables’ message, along with Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign present unique opportunities for apples and the entire produce department due to the emphasis on increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Consumers are increasingly reaching for functional foods supporting industry promotion of the health benefits associated with apples.

Growers and retailers can team up to provide consumers with suggestions on how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their hectic lifestyles via newsletters, websites and in-store signage. Apples and pears are healthy image examples of items that are easy to tote along, require no refrigeration, no prep time and can be eaten quickly and publicly. Retailers can promote them alongside other items with similar characteristics.

Sherise Jones, marketing director
Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee (IEOOC)
Parma, Idaho

The IEOOC’s All-American Campaign promotes the growing region, reassuring consumers of onions’ health benefits and connecting them to the product’s origin.

“I think consumers are becoming increasingly aware that they need to support the growers in their area. The IEOOC shows consumers where its onions come from. Our All-American Winners campaign and its POS materials incorporate kids that grew up in the area; you can see the onion fields in the photos.

“It brings the consumer closer to the produce. During certain times of year you cant go to a fruit stand and get local fruits. When consumers can make that connection between how much care is put into growing the product that they’re consuming, I think they feel better about the health benefit that they are going to get from that product.

“In addition to the health benefits of onions, consumers can be confident buying onions from our area because we have state-of-the-art food safety procedures in place, we are under a marketing order and our shippers have been doing it for a long long time.”

Bil Goldfield, communications manager
Dole Fresh Fruit
Westlake Village, Calif.

Dole Fresh Fruit leverages the nutrition materials published by the Dole Nutrition Institute to promote sales—and educate the public.

“Dole Fresh Fruit pioneered our Superfood campaign with stickers and packaging, touting how different nutrient combinations in particular fruit support various health functions. We pass that knowledge to our sales people so they are well-equipped to talk health benefits of our products.

“Dole Fresh Fruit is always looking to partner with our customers in innovative ways that promote nutrition. Shoppers want to know the end benefit of the nutrients. It’s not enough to say, ‘This fruit has vitamin C.’ Consumers want to know what that does for their health. They are also trying to manage weight so emphasizing the many, many weight-loss benefits of fruit and vegetables can help motivate their purchases.”

Terry Braithwaite, director of marketing
Chelan Fresh Marketing
Chelan, Wash.

Chelan Fresh has teamed up with the NFL and the National Dairy Council to promote the Fuel Up and Play 60 healthy eating program—designed to combat childhood obesity in schools nationwide—in retail stores.

“The program has a strong foundation and message going out to kids. But healthy eating has to start with the parents because if they aren’t buying the right foods, the kids aren’t eating the right foods at home. As an industry we have the tools and healthy products necessary to send that message; growers and retailers have to work together to promote these options. I’d like to see more commodities get involved in the Fuel Up and Play 60 program and the retail store level.

“As a grower and packer we have a responsibility to provide the consumer with safe healthy edible fresh foods. It doesn’t matter how you view health issues, childhood obesity is one of the biggest health crises today. We are providing retailers with a program that targets kids in the local schools for them to reach out and help. If we get kids into eating the right products and into a healthy lifestyle early, they will carry through when they are older.  Apples are one of the best products on earth. It goes back to the school days of eating an apple a day.”

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