(Sept. 3) The phrase “Got Milk?” has it going on. With simple words backed by big bucks, the milk industry is united and focused, and the American public repeats its phrase. Celebrities Bill Cosby, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O’Donnell and Jay Leno have jokingly, yet widely, promoted the milk message in comedy skits.

Although 5 a Day is no laughing matter, it does have the president’s public endorsement. The health and nutrition appeal of produce led President Bush to urge Americans to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of his Healthier U.S. initiative launched in June.

Do your part to widen the 5 a Day message in your stores and spheres of influence. Follow these suggestions, not only during 5 a Day week (Sept. 22-28), but year-round.

1. TAKE THE NUTRITION HIGHWAY

  • 5 a Day is a natural for produce, especially with the growing focus on phytochemicals. The Produce for Better Health Foundation, Wilmington, Del., is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a phytochemical nutrient analysis of 25 produce items with results expected this fall, says Lori Baer, PBH’s manager of public relations and production.

    “Phytochemicals are a very important part in disease prevention,” she says. “Fruits and vegetables as whole foods are where you get them. You can’t capsulize them in a pill. That will be a focus and a growing buzz word in the health community and trade press.”


  • Highlight color in your customer communications. Phytochemicals often are tied with the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their color, Baer says. PBH will offer more information on the color and nutrient connection later this year.

    With 63 stores, Wegman’s Food Markets Inc., Rochester, N.Y., told its Web site visitors in June, “It’s National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. Draw a rainbow and choose a new fruit and vegetable each week to match each color.”

    The opening page of the kids’ section on San Antonio-based H.E.Butt Grocery Co.’s Web site, tells visitors to eat green, yellow and red.The company operates about 300 HEB Food and Drug Stores and five Central Markets.


  • Make a splash at health fairs. They are a great opportunity to show your concern for health and spread the 5 a Day message.

    Kings Super Markets Inc., Parsippany, N.J., sets up a produce display and a store 5 a Day sign at the Healthy Kids Day health fair sponsored by the area YMCA, says Cheryl Good, manager of community relations and consumer affairs for the 29 stores.


  • Find or make up a produce/health brochure to distribute to shoppers. Kings produced one called “Farmaceuticals,” which matches produce with the nutrient message. It is so popular, area health departments request copies, Good says.


2. PURSUE EDUCATION

  • Open up to school tours and use them as a 5 a Day publicity platform.

    In February, Safeway Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., kicked off its “Eat Like a Champion” 5 a Day promotion, which includes student store tours, teacher lesson plans and student activities. Safeway operates more than 1,700 stores in the United States and Canada.

    The initiative was developed in cooperation with PBH and Canada’s 5 to 10 a Day program to reach more than 600,000 elementary school children at nearly 1,750 schools across the U.S. and Canada, according to a statement prepared by Safeway and PBH.

    Members of the U.S. and Canadian soccer teams are featured on bookmarks, trading cards and recipe cards with their favorite recipes.

    As the 5 a Day school tour pioneer, Dole Food Co. Inc., Westlake Village, Calif., offers adopt-a-school and store tours guidebooks on its Web site at www.dole5aday.com. To help you promote your school program, the company also offers a publicity kit online. For giveaways, the company offers a “Fun with Fruits & Vegetables Kid’s Cookbook;” “Jammin’ 5 a Day songs” cassette tapes; and charts and stickers to help children track their produce consumption.

    PBH also offers educational materials, including activity sheets and lesson plans. Check out its Web site at www.5aday.com.

    Supervalu Inc., Minneapolis, encourages school involvement among the 4,000-plusstores it serves. Some stores go into schools and give away fresh fruit and vegetable snacks during lunch periods, says Steve Coleman, corporate category manager for produce and floral. Other stores post serving sizes at school cafeterias near the fruits and vegetables.


  • Use your cooking school and demos to promote 5 a Day. During 5 a Day month, Kings Super Markets previously conducted classes for senior citizens promoting the health benefits of 5 a Day. “There was standing room only in some of those classes,” Good says.


3. BRING 5 A DAY ONLINE

  • Add 5 a Day to the produce section of your Web site. Wegman’s guides consumers to its Strive for Five section in the produce section of its Web site (www.wegmans.com). A section labeled “parents” offers, “50 ways to eat more produce.” A few of the ideas are:

    — “Add tomatoes, celery and frozen peas to spaghetti sauce; spinach or peas to lasagna and frozen mixed vegetables or canned tomatoes to macaroni and cheese.

    — “Use fresh fruit instead of jam in peanut butter sandwiches.

    — “Mix fruit, low-fat milk and ice in a blender for a breakfast shake.

    — “Sneak spinach in between layers of cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich.

    — “Serve yogurt as a dip with fresh fruit and ranch dressing with cut up veggies.

    — “Add shredded carrots or zucchini to ground beef and make into burgers.”

  • Develop a monthly activity calendar online to incorporate serving ideas. On Father’s Day in June, Wegman’s urged children to serve their fathers chocolate-dipped fresh fruit. On another day, the calendar advised children to make no-cook strawberry freezer jam, and on a third day the calendar encouraged kids to make a strawberry smoothie.


  • Include produce recipes in the 5 a Day section of the site. In June, HEB featured a banana recipe for frozen “Yogonanas” in its 5 a Day section.


4. FOCUS ON IN-STORE PROGRAMS

  • Start a kids fruit-of-the-month club tied in with 5 a Day. HEB’s kids club works with children from 4 to 10 years old. They receive an H-E-Buddy 5 a Day Kids Card, which entitles them to a different free piece of fruit each month.


  • Put 5 a Day information on a computer kiosk in the produce department. Dole released a 5 a Day Personal Trainer interactive module on its Web site in June which could be adapted to store kiosks, says Amy Myrdal, nutrition communications manager for Dole’s nutrition and health program.

    The program helps consumers identify ways to increase their fruit and vegetable intake and become more physically active. Guests fill in demographic and lifestyle information and then list the fruits or vegetables they ate for a particular meal. The program analyzes the list, outlines the nutrient content and compares it to recommended levels.


  • Conduct consumer contests to encourage 5 a Day. Kings has conducted “Produce your Best Salad,” recipe contests for 5 a Day month several times. The stores promote the salad recipe contest through media press releases, in its biweekly print ad and over the store public address system, Good says. Winners receive a store gift certificate.

    The stores also have held recipe contests among Boy Scout troops asking them to develop recipes with five or more servings of fruits or vegetables, she says.


  • Conduct display contests to encourage stores to promote 5 a Day. Supervalu regularly conducts contests among its regions.

  • 5. PARTNER WITH YOUR SUPPLIERS

  • Get suppliers to help sponsor a 5 a Day recipe booklet.

    Safeway enlisted nearly a dozen produce sponsors to help develop recipe booklets with 40 5 a Day recipes for its “Eat Like a Champion” campaign. The recipes also are featured on a special Web site created for the promotion (www.eatlikeachampion.com).

    C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Minneapolis, looks for opportunities like this to work with retailers on 5 a Day promotions. “If a retailer teamed up with shippers to develop a 5 a Day program that involved POS recipe booklets with various fresh suppliers/brands, plus ran special ad pricing during the recipe booklet promotion, they could significantly increase their case movement,” says Jim Lemke, vice president and corporate procurement and distribution services manager.

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., also works with suppliers and Try-Foods International Inc., Apopka, Fla., to create an annual 5 a Day recipe booklet distributed in stores, says Ron McCormick, produce director for the nearly 1,200 Wal-Mart Supercenters. Try-Foods donates a portion of the sponsor funds to PBH.


  • Brand 5 a Day on certain bagged fruits and vegetables. Supervalu works with its lettuce, cauliflower and celery suppliers to include only the 5 a Day logo on the wrapping, which essentially makes 5 a Day the brand name, Coleman says.


  • Get suppliers to help you target shoppers with 5 a Day messages and coupons through your loyalty card program.

    You may want to reward your best produce customers. Send them a coupon from participating supplier sponsors, says Jan DeLyser, vice president of merchandising for the California Avocado Commission, Santa Ana.

    Or you may want to target customers in your database who haven’t purchased fresh produce recently and offer them an incentive to reintroduce them to your produce. “Our experience with that is, once you reintroduce an item, there’s a much greater chance of them repeating purchases,” she says.


  • Jump on 5 a Day initiatives your suppliers develop.

    For example, Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif., linked with Sony Pictures on a Stuart Little 2 promotion this summer, which included Sunkist/Stuart Little posters bearing the 5 a Day logo. It also included a 5 a Day recipe booklet in bags of oranges.

    Sunkist is looking for more opportunities to promote 5 a Day working with retailers, says marketing director Robert Verloop. “We’re negotiating with Sony. As future developments occur around Stuart Little, we want to be in a position to take advantage of it,” he says.

    As Sunkist repositions itself, it will make 5 a Day part of its identity, he says. The company is working on ways to promote its color in keeping with PBH’s new emphasis on color.