The news was announced at the 2019 PHA Summit in Chicago.
The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) announced a new collaboration with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), through the eat brighter! program, which will allow NACS retailer and supplier members to use Sesame Street character images to promote healthy eating.
“Back in 2013, the three of us, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), Sesame Workshop and PMA got together and created the eat brighter! program with the goal of driving produce consumption in kids ages two to five,” Kathy Means, vice president, demand, creation and consumer affairs for PMA told CSD. “Those are the kids who love Sesame Street and we feel like if we can get them started when they’re young we will build consumers for life, and we won’t have to turn them around when they’re 16 or 60.”
The eat brighter! program has been available for industry use since March 2014 and has demonstrated a proven track record for success. Research shows that not only is Sesame Street a highly trusted brand with over 6 million viewers each week, it is also a brand that drives consumption of fruits and vegetables. One study showed that children eat 31% more fruits and vegetables when promoted by a Sesame Street character, and suppliers who have utilized the eat brighter! materials report produce sales increased 5.3%.
Interested convenience stores can contact PMA to gain access to royalty-free images for use on fresh fruit and vegetable packaging and marketing materials by paying a small one-time administration fee for the program, which is scheduled to run through the end of 2021.
“Once you’re a part of it, then you get access to an online turnkey marketing toolkit and you can do point of sale material and coloring sheets to give out to kids. You can have your marketing agency use these (graphics) at the fuel pump or at the point of sale to showcase the Sesame characters loving produce,” Means said. “But in addition, for the convenience store, it shows their commitment to their community and to the traveling public.”
“We know from NACS that half of America’s in a convenience store every day, so that’s a lot of people we can reach. If when we can help make the healthy choice, the easy choice by kids saying, ‘I want what Cookie Monster likes. I want what Elmo likes.’ That makes it a lot easier on mom and dad to choose the cup holder full of grapes over a candy bar,” Means added.
While the program is for promoting fresh fruits and vegetables, c-stores are not required to meet rules for a specific amount of produce. If a c-store offers a basket of bananas by the checkout that’s enough to qualify for the program. C-stores can learn more at: pma.com/eatbrighter
PMA recently announced a similar collaboration with the National Grocers Association (NGA), expanding the number of retailers with access to this consumer facing marketing opportunity. As of Dec. 31, 2018, there are 46 suppliers, nine retailers, 596 stores and 11 promotional organizations participating.
There are 85 fresh-cut or fresh fruits and 70 fresh-cut or fresh vegetables represented in the program.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with NACS on this initiative to change the trajectory of kids’ health and well-being,” said Means. “We know from NACS’ invaluable research that half of Americans are in and out of convenience stores every day, and having these kid-loved, parent-trusted monsters promoting delicious fresh produce helps parents make the healthy choice the easy choice. Having such a program shows each store’s commitment to their community.”
NACS has 1,900 retailer and 1,800 supplier members from more than 50 countries. Nine NACS retail members and six industry distributors, serving tens of thousands of stores, have also signed commitments with PHA.
“This program could yield enormous benefits for convenience stores and their suppliers,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Our own consumer data shows that 60% of consumers are more likely to make purchases of snacks that are supported by credible health and nutrition groups. Sesame Street, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019 through a variety of high-profile events, is one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world.”