(April 26) NEW YORK CITY — Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. will begin its celebration of National Salad Month in the Big Apple on May 1 by opening a museum devoted to salad.

The next day, it will kick off its latest fresh-cut salad campaign with the aim of luring consumers nationwide not only to the salad racks, but also to the World Wide Web, where they’ll find dollars off at 10 Internet retailers.

Along the way, Dole hopes to encourage consumers to more than triple their yearly purchase of Dole salad blends during the six-month promotion, which is called MyGreen$.

“May is the month of the year with the highest volume of sales for precut salads,” said Chris Mayhew, director of marketing for Dole Fresh Vegetables, Salinas, Calif. “It’s also National Salad Month. We felt this was a great opportunity to promote National Salad Month, increase sales in the salad category and increase sales for Dole salads.”

Three days after kicking off MyGreen$, Dole will launch a second campaign that will involve cross-promotions with Hormel Fully Cooked Entrees.

SALAD MUSEUM

The idea of a salad museum came about as a way of telling the story of salad to consumers, Mayhew said. National Salad Month was a perfect time to tell them about the history of salads and the mechanics of how Dole grows the vegetables, processes them, packages them and delivers them to the stores.

“This was a great opportunity for us to do something in Manhattan,” Mayhew said. “It’s a big city, and the location has great foot traffic and a lot of tourists.”

Dole’s Museum of Salad will open in a 1,200-square-foot space in the South Street Seaport, a few blocks away from where the World Trade Center stood.

The museum will be open during May from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Admission will be free.

Divided into 12 zones, the museum will have 28 informational panels describing the history of salad, Dole and Salinas. Other panels will focus on growing practices, food safety, organics and the importance of cold chain maintenance. Still other panels will provide more in-depth information about Dole’s triple wash procedures and bag technologies. Wrapping up the displays will be salad facts and information on the origins of America’s favorite salads, from cobb and spinach to chef’s, Waldorf and coleslaw.

After the end of May, the museum will be moved to the Salinas Valley. Consumers who can’t make it to New York to see the museum will be able to access the information on Dole’s new Web site, www.dolesalads.com. The site was launched in April to help consumers get information about Dole’s 11 conventional and four organic salad blends.

The site offers access for consumers and the industry to salad-specific information, including nutrition, packaging, new products and recipes. It also includes an area for children and a feature for tracking Dole’s Sammy Salad character throughout the nation.

MYGREEN$

The MyGreen$ promotion will begin May 2 with a satellite media tour and a demonstration of how consumers can take part in it to get coupons for money off Dole salads and get coupons for Internet retailers.

“This is a unique promotion,” Mayhew said. “Nothing like this has ever been done in this category. Consumers shop differently now, so we’re doing the next generation of promotions by taking it in-pack, on-shelf and online.”

During the six-month promotion, Dole will put coupons into 42 million packages of Dole salad blends. Included in each pack will be a coupon for 75 cents off the next purchase of two bags of Dole blends, as well as coupons for partner products, from dressings to cheeses to meat, which will differ over the course of the promotion.

Finally, the in-pack coupons will include a unique code. Customers can take the code to Dole’s Web site and use the it to shop at 10 Internet retailers. Each code is good for one $10 coupon from one of the retailers, including Omaha Steaks, A.K.A. Gourmet, Wine.com, Shoes.com, Netflix and Crutchfield.com.

As further incentive, Dole is giving away a $100 shopping spree at one of the Internet retailers each day during the six-month program.

“This is huge,” Mayhew said. “On average, consumers purchase blends 2.7 times a year. We’re giving incentives to them to buy 10 times in six months.”

Mayhew points out that even as much as bagged salads have grown in the past decade, there is still plenty of room to increase the category. Across all the brands in the category, the average household buys a bagged salad 8.3 times a year, she said.

HORMEL CAMPAIGN

The other promotion, with Hormel, will use an insert in newspapers nationwide on May 5. It will include a coupon for $1.50 off the purchase of both a Dole salad and a Hormel Fully Cooked Entree.

“Precut salads are the most frequently purchased item when consumers buy Hormel, so this was a natural cross-promotion,” Mayhew said. “And the FSI will allow us to promote MyGreen$ as well. We have a busy spring, and we’re excited about how everything goes.”

National Salad Month was the brainchild of the Association for Sauces and Dressings, Atlanta, which came up with the idea about a decade ago.