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Bye, Bye Five

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, March 20, 2007

The new Fruits & Veggies — More Matters campaign has been launched:

To encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables, the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today unveiled a new public health initiative, Fruits & Veggies — More Matters™, the next generation of the 15-year-old “5 A Day for Better Health” program. The initiative’s launch coincided with the release of a new article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showing that most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

The new Fruits and Veggies — More Matters brand was also developed to be consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends various numbers of servings of fruits and vegetables depending on an individual’s calorie needs — ranging from 4 to 13 servings, or 2 to 6.5 cups, per day.

“Fruits & Veggies — More Matters is a new call for a healthier America that is inspiring, attainable, and easy for people to understand,” said Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, PBH president and CEO. “The message is intentionally simple: Most people benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables every day.” She added that all forms count: fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100-percent juice.

Dr. William Dietz, Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, said that healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases and can also help people manage their weight. Yet, he noted more than 90 percent of both adults and children do not consume the amounts now recommended by the Dietary Guidelines. “Our mission is to change consumers’ behavior over the long term and close this consumption gap,” he said.

Also announced today was the Fruits & Veggies — More Matters interactive Web site, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org, offering recipes, serving ideas, and shopping advice. It includes activities and tips for getting children involved and gives consumers the opportunity to share their own easy and fun serving ideas by submitting them online.

Highlighted on the new Web site is the Fruits & Veggies — More Matters Challenge, an 11-week contest that invites families to submit a favorite recipe or preparation tip involving fruits and vegetables. Participants may win the opportunity for their family to learn easy, healthy cooking methods directly from an expert chef at The Culinary Institute of America.

According to Dr. Pivonka, consumers will soon start to see Fruits & Veggies — More Matters on packaging and in stores nationwide: 21,000 supermarkets and 170 companies are already licensed to participate. In addition, consumer outreach at both the state and local government levels will aim to help make healthy food choices the easy choices.

You can take a look at a slideshow of some of the research on which the launch was based right here.

It is an exciting moment for the industry as we move beyond 5-a-Day. One controversial area for the fresh produce industry is that the new campaign gives much more emphasis to dried, canned and frozen product. This is nutritionally not particularly controversial but is certainly going to be problematic when it comes to getting support from companies that produce fresh product with heavy frozen competition, say broccoli.

The slideshow shows that incredibly high percentages of moms think fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy, which shows the message has gotten out. The slideshow goes on to show that moms mean well in terms of trying to get the kids to eat more produce, but changing knowledge into action is still going to be a challenge.

Let us wish the good folks at PBH all the luck in the world… and hope they don’t need it.

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