Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), for a second year, convened a 3-day symposium for supermarket dietitians during PMA’s 2013 Fresh Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana. The overall goal of the event was to connect retail dietitians with food companies committed to improving public health by increasing consumption and educational awareness of the benefits of fruit and vegetables.
“When you consider that Americans make more than 60 trips per household per year to the grocery store, registered dietitians many of whom work in supermarkets and engage with customers, are ideally positioned to make a positive impact in changing the way people eat for better health,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of PBH. “We must leverage their access to and credibility with consumers to move the consumption needle toward a healthier America.”
The symposium provided 25 registered dietitians from fifteen states, representing 22 banners and nearly 4,500 stores nationwide, with relevant fruit and vegetable information and trends; opportunities to network with peers; dedicated time on the showroom floor with industry leaders; as well as timely and reliable nutrition advice and best practices to share with their respective organizations and customers.
Supermarket dietitians and food industry partners participated in the following four workshops:
Produce Industry 101: Dr. Edward McLaughlin, Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing, Cornell University, presented a comprehensive overview of the produce industry, exploring the strategies and analytical techniques employed to address both classical and contemporary problems faced by retailers and offering insights and resources to enhance in-store engagement and outreach.
Understanding Genetically Modified (GM) Foods: Dr. Bruce Chassy, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign lectured on genetically modified foods. Dr. Chassy offered a science-based discussion to debunk and rebut misinformation regarding GMO’s and the labelling issue. Food safety is a major concern so providing attendees with information and perspective to better educate consumers was an essential focus for this session.
The Tools You Need to Convince Your Company to Promote Fruit & Veggies: A popular Supermarket Q & A Panel Discussion was moderated by Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of PBH. Attendees gained valuable insight and advice for developing strong relationships across all departments in the store and at the corporate level to maximize impact of nutrition promotions, in-store engagement and community outreach. The panel included Gaines Chamberlain, Business Development Manager, Blanc Industries, formerly with Food Lion; Terrance Murphy, Produce Procurement Manager, Wakefern Food Corp.; Katie Stitzel, RD, Giant Eagle; and Kristen Stevens, Chief Operating Officer, PBH.
Talking Points About Fruit & Vegetable Issues: Elizabeth Pivonka, PhD, RD, President & CEO, Produce for Better Health Foundation provided an overview of science-based talking points about issues particular to fruits and vegetables. Topics covered included: common questions/concerns that come up about produce including pesticide residues, organics, the Dirty Dozen, processing of fruit and veggies, current fruit and vegetable consumption levels, and cost concerns.
“There is no better time than right now for retailers, dietitians, healthcare professionals, food industry partners and the media to work together to make a big impact in educating consumers on how to buy, read labels, prepare, and eat healthier foods generally and more fruits and vegetables specifically,” added Pivonka.
PBH extends its thanks to the following donors for their support and sponsorship of this year’s event:
Produce Marketing Association
California Avocado Commission
Chelan Fresh Marketing
Dole Food Company
Idaho Potato Commission
Monsanto Vegetable Seeds
Chilean Fresh Fruit Association
Giorgio Fresh Mushrooms
Pear Bureau Northwest
Rainier Fruit Company
Seneca Foods Corporation
Natural Delights Medjool Dates
Del Monte Fresh Produce