Marketing produce: Fruit and veggies get an advertising makeover


"Produce is all about helping people eat more healthfully, but also have more fun when they're eating," said Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of the Produce Marketing Association.

Produce, the high-fiber, low-fat, nutrient-packed food that Americans don't get enough of, is getting smart about its sales pitch. From logos to packaging to ad campaigns, they're looking to be as fun and convenient as fast food.

For example, Stemilt and Sunkist are teaming up to sell Lil Snappers.

"The thought behind it is that we're marketing small pieces of fruit to kids, and for lunch solutions and snacks," said Roger Pepperl, Stemilt Growers marketing director.

The idea? Smaller fruit for tiny hands: Apples, pears and citrus, just ripe for lunchboxes or snacking.

"We tend to market more to moms," said Julie DeWolf, Sunkist director of retail marketing. "This was an opportunity for us to really get something exciting into stores that talks to the children themselves."

Often you'll see cartoon characters on fast food containers or cereal boxes. Salad company Ready Pac Produce partnered with Disney to put some well-known characters on fresh fare.

"We've got the 'Shake It Up' brand on our Caesar salad. We have Mater from 'Cars' on our mini-meals; and Mickey, of course," said Ready Pac Director of Marketing Tristan Simpson. "Kids love mixing and tossing the salad themselves, and then we have four mini-meals. There's also a fun surprise in each product for the kids."

Disney, the parent company of ABC7, has also set rules under their Magic of Healthy Living program.

"We had to abide by really strict nutritional guidelines," said Simpson.

And no surprise: Kids love to play with their food, and now it's easier with My Fruity Faces edible stickers.

"Kids are able to get the stickers, put it on their fruit and they're able to eat it," said Bob Ntoya, My Fruity Faces co-founder. "We've got a licensing deal with Nickelodeon, so we've got Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer, so the kids, they love it."

"The big thing is we are not eating enough produce in our country, and for our growers to make money we have to increase consumption," said Pepperl.

That translates into healthier kids.

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