Let’s be honest, guys: When it comes to eating our share of fresh fruits and vegetables, we tend to come up short — even those who work around fruits and vegetables day in and day out.

Hey marketers: Don't forget the guys

Fred Wilkinson
Food for Thought

According to a 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, the prevalence of eating vegetables three or more times per day was 22.1% among men and 32.2% among women.

To our credit, the CDC survey found the prevalence of consuming fruit two or more times per day was higher among men (36.4% versus 28.7%).

Research from The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2010 survey tells us, on a commodity-by-commodity basis, women best men for likelihood of purchase of fruits and vegetables across the board.

According to American Demographics, most people who live alone are women (57%), but men are catching up. The number of men who live alone increased at nearly twice the rate of women (28% versus 15%) during the 1990s.

The way more and more Americans live leaves food buying decisions increasingly up to men, and their produce consumption has room to improve.

The recently announced merchandising effort between Mexican avocados and Coors beer tying in to soccer’s World Cup provides an example of a natural product pairing that would have broad appeal among many single men.  

But since eating habits formed in childhood can have a lifetime effect, reaching young boys with marketing messages about the tasty health benefits fresh produce offers is crucial.

Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation’s recent National Strawberry Month promotion is a missed opportunity in that regard.

The effort features the Strawberry Shortcake character on PBH’s Web site and in a children’s activity book, ad slicks, consumer columns, recipes and sign templates.

Sure, a character with the name Strawberry Shortcake seems a natural fit for a Strawberry Month tie-in, and employing such an established character is a good bet to reach young girls.

But what about boys?

Unless things have changed drastically since I was a kid, I’m skeptical that girl stuff like Strawberry Shortcake is much of a draw for them.

Boys, girls, men, women — we all can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables.

Making marketing messages more inclusive could help improve everyone’s diet.

E-mail fwilkinson@thepacker.com

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