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Produce industry makes healthy enjoyable

The retail tour that ended the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit demonstrated that vendors are building on trends that already are rooted in retail. By helping produce suppliers get the word out to consumers, by offering convenient alternatives, providing intriguing new items and offering convenient ways to enjoy the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, retailers are helping consumers find ways to improve their health and still enjoy what they eat.


The tour began with a stop at a Wal-Mart supercenter in the Atlanta suburbs that prominently displayed a recipe rack alongside its featured tomato display to help consumers translate their desire to nosh nutritionally into enticing eating. Recipes pointed out ways to provide healthy meals as well as quick nutritious dishes. Wal-Mart also offered an informational booklet along with a major display of pomegrantes so consumers who had become familiar with the oxidant cleansing fruit as a juice can enjoy it as a food.


A new Kroger prototype on the tour carries Earthbound Farms clamshells for organic consumers and those who find the package easier to handle and store than traditional bagged salads. At the Fresh Summit, Earthbound Farms added new clamshell salads, romaine heaths and sliced apple snack packs to its clamshell line.


The Kroger visit offered a feature presentation of Latin and Asian products for consumers whose tastes have widened along with their curiosity about new cuisines. Young people who have grown up eating a wider variety of foods than ever before and older consumers addressing health issues aren't going to give up their demonstrated priority on taste, so new fruits and vegetables today are enjoying greater attention than at any point since the mid-1990s.


From Oldwalla to Naked to Pore, juices have become a way for consumers to get the nutrition they desire conveniently, not to mention peaking their interest in products they might not have previously tried, such as pomegranates. Bolthouse Farms is among the newcomers enjoying success in juices merchandised in the produce department cold case and has a big presence in the Harry's Market cold case. At PMA, Bolthouse introduced a new, cappuccino-based protein drink that uses whey for its main nutritional component, proving once again that two seemingly divergent trends--love of healthy eating and love of coffee--can be combined.


Whether its the range of bananas or the number of conventional and organic apples it offers side by side, Harry's Farmer's Market is an example of the expansive approach many food retailers are taking to produce merchandising, one that arises from a recognition the consumer want to find new things that suit their tastes as they rethink their definition of what good food really is.
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