PMA Offers Kid-Friendly Tips to Boost Consumption, Promotes Veteran Staffer

NEWARK, Del. - Boosting produce demand can indeed be child's play, according to new research on children and their consumption of produce from Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here.

PMA's latest consumer research highlights the opportunity to be had by growing children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The audience of 3-11 year olds is 36 million strong, and yet children and their families also happen to be among the worst fruit and vegetable consumers. Nearly two-thirds of families with children don't even get their 5-A-Day, according to 2005 NPD Group research for Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH).

This consumption gap presents a marketing opportunity for the produce industry. New PMA consumer research by Opinion Dynamics Corporation offers helpful tips on how to encourage kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Researchers queried 1,000 primary shopper-consumers by telephone in early January regarding children's produce consumption.

What do shoppers think is keeping kids from eating enough fruits and vegetables? Survey respondents ranked taste, experience, and time issues as leading barriers. In all, 82 percent said taste factors, such as kids not liking the taste of some fruits and vegetables, were a somewhat to very significant barrier, while 80 percent cited children's previous bad experience(s) and 70 percent cited not having enough time in the day to get in all those fruits and veggies.

"We all know from our personal and professional experience that children can and do enjoy fruits and vegetables, often with a gusto that only a child can have," said PMA president Bryan Silbermann. "Our industry's future sales depend upon our ability today to cultivate these consumers of tomorrow," he added.

In terms of what is keeping kids from consuming more produce, making fruits and vegetables appealing was cited as the greatest challenge by 28 percent of participants, while 24 percent cited getting the family enthused or involved. Conversely, 34 percent couldn't put a finger on what was keeping kids from eating more.

"This research suggests we can increase consumption and sales by helping our customers make our foods more appealing to their families," said Silbermann. "That's as easy as offering products for sale in ways that makes them more eye appealing and suggesting a broad range of great-tasting meal and snack ideas."

Meanwhile, 87 percent of shoppers said they think it is somewhat to very important to make produce consumption fun for kids. Over two-thirds agreed that putting cartoon or superhero characters on packaging can help make fruits and vegetables fun, though 25 percent disagreed with that marketing tactic. Over one half (61 percent) said that parents are most effective at getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables regularly. Friends and peers, and schools, followed distantly; 17 percent thought all these influencers were equally powerful.

In other news, PMA promoted Julie Koch to v.p./member relations. In this capacity, Koch will provide overall strategic direction for the association's member retention and recruitment programs, as well as overseeing new products and services and consumer, member, and industry market research.

Koch joined PMA in 1995 and has served as the association's director of member relations and director of member programs.
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