The Canadian Produce Marketing Association has some changes on the horizon with its marketing and outreach programs.

The Ottawa-based association plan to rebrand the 5 to 10 A Day slogan, the counterpart to the Fruits & Veggies — More Matters campaign in the U.S.

“We are looking at the 5 to 10 A Day program and how to make it relevant, how to have an impact,” said Melanie Richer, senior manager of marketing and communications. “Childhood obesity numbers are rising, and awareness isn’t as high as we’d like it to be.”

The slogan has been used for a decade, Richer said, and it’s time for a revamp. CPMA plans to reveal the new program in the spring. Partnerships with the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada will continue, she said.

“Between now and spring we’re going to be developing a Web site, getting materials together, putting together public service announcements and looking for a sponsor,” Richer said.

The association is also piloting a new program that brings more fruit and vegetables into schools for snacks, but is funded by parents. More than 60 schools in the Ottawa Catholic School Board’s operation are testing Freggie Fridays, a program that encourages students to bring in their own fruit or vegetable for a snack, and incorporates those snacks into classroom activities.

“The whole idea is, kids bring in their own snacks, and the industry supports it because it’s funded by the parents,” said Danny Dempster, president of the association. “We’re just changing habits.”

The pilot program is patterned on what one teacher, Emily Goold, started in her third grade class in 2007. Goold, after hearing about CPMA’s mascot Freggie from a parent who worked for the association, started asking her students to bring in fruits and vegetables for snack, and built classroom activities around them.

“They’d make graphs in math, talk about where they were grown in geography,” Richer said. “And the kids love Freggie.”

Goold worked with Linda Mosley, a retired principal, to develop the program and a teachers’ guide that CPMA is using, Richer said.

On the food safety side, the association has formed a new government relations group, the Government Issue Management Working Group, led by Jane Proctor, vice president of policy and issue management.

The purpose of the group is to meet with federal officials whose regulations affect the fresh produce industry. The four key bodies in the group are the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Health Canada.

“It’s built on another successful model we had, which we did originally with CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance), and that model really worked for us,” Proctor said.

Proctor said issues on the table so far are food safety, fair and ethical trading, traceability, health of Canadians, pesticide and crop protection and the harmonization of standards, especially between the U.S. and Canada.

“We’re all sitting down and looking at issues that face the industry,” Dempster said.

The association wants a follow-up meeting by January.

“It’s pretty significant to have that many senior government officials in one room,” Proctor said. “So we’ll connect with government before, on what the issues are, what we want to propose as a solution, and what our needs are.”

Proctor said industry leaders will volunteer to be spokespeople on specific issues, and that helps keep meetings tight and focused.

Once a government official has been in a meeting and discussed an issue in front of his or her peers, it becomes easier to get access to that official and his or her team at a later date, Proctor said.

“It certainly facilitates the ease of us setting up other meetings,” Proctor said.

The association plans to fill two new positions in its communications department, Richer said.

CPMA plans revamp of 5 to 10 A Day