The fresh produce neighborhood just improved with the arrival of Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster and company.

With the partnership between the Produce Marketing Association and Sesame Workshop, the industry is starting a two-year period where the best intentions and high-minded public and private collaboration will be tested in the marketplace.

Under the terms of the deal, produce grower-shippers and retailers can use “Sesame Street” characters royalty-free.

The March 31 release of the toolkit describing how the industry can use Sesame Street assets is the beginning to what should be an exciting and revealing period.

Certainly, organizers hope that many in the industry will elect to embrace the partnership with Sesame Workshop. For those that do, the lure of royalty-free use of well-known and well-liked characters will surely play a big part.

The promotion’s tagline — eat brighter! — meshes with messaging the industry has done with consumers about adding a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets.

Even with so many powerful supporters — at PMA, Sesame Workshop and even the White House — the partnership needs industry engagement.

As one observer put it, the Sesame Street campaign will be as successful as the industry wants it to be.

In particular, retailers may have the most influence over just how big these promotions can become.

With a nod from retail executives, Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster will slip on their produce aprons and get to work.

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