Here’s a perpetual business question: How can we do a better job?
As a produce industry? In a single word? Calories. Or I should say, lack thereof.
I received an interesting e-mail from Don Odiorne, foodservice vice-president of the Idaho Potato Commission (and my boss).
According to the information in a Wall Street Journal article, what matters in a person’s diet, especially in regard to weight loss, is the simple formula: fewer calories consumed, in coordination with higher amounts of calories burned, equals weight loss.
Reverse the formula, and it equals weight gain. Very simple, and according to the article, it doesn’t matter what form the calories arrive in.
In the article, George Bray, researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La., said, “The body (in the study) was confronted with excess calories, but it didn’t care where they came from. Weight gain depends primarily on excess calories, regardless of the composition of the meal.”
This plays well in promoting fresh produce sales. Produce has fewer calories for the volume than any other food on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, and that’s the reason produce takes up half the space on MyPlate.
I’m sure the dietitians and other health-food gurus out there will take a few pokes at this, and I’m OK with that. As a produce person by trade, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m as baffled as anyone as to the mystery of health claims and (personally speaking) the bigger mystery of weight loss.
However, being a produce proponent first, my thinking is this: As an industry, retailers should be jumping all over this concept and advantage of produce calories, published now in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
I think retail produce departments should have giant, starburst-style signs on every produce display shouting the caloric value of each item — not unlike how some states require restaurants to post caloric values on their menu boards. Except with fresh produce, these values should serve not to frighten consumers but encourage purchases.
For example, the signs could read “Cherries — 15% vitamin C and only 100 calories per cup” and “Tangerines — 27% vitamin C and only 103 calories” and so forth. The price point should be secondary.
Might as well do the same with the stereotypical celery diet example — 8% fiber, 15% vitamin C and only 15 calories for TWO stalks!
All shoppers have to do is read produce signs to, um, get the skinny.
Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions. E-mail email@example.com.
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