Tell it to The Packer | Letter to the Editor

Kathy Means
Produce Marketing Association
Newark, Del.

Reading your editorial of Jan. 24, “Wal-Mart’s noble profit goal,” we (the Produce Marketing Association) have to agree that reducing produce prices will drive demand.

Yet we take issue with a comment in the editorial: “The bigger issue is that Simon is on to something that’s become more glaring during the recession: Many families do have to choose between healthier food that is expensive or cheaper food that is unhealthy.”

This perception is perpetuated by public officials, health professionals, foodies, consumers, and now The Packer.

We urge The Packer to share the basis of this contention because our own research indicates it simply isn’t true.

Last year PMA conducted research to combat this myth that produce is expensive.

Our research shows that the average consumer can get 4.5 cups (the daily recommendation for healthy adults — nine servings) of a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables for $2.18, and bargain hunters can get this amount for 88 cents.

These numbers are fairly consistent across the seasons and across the country. What unhealthy foods beat this for stomach-filling food volume — chips, candy, even fast food?

Certainly price is only one piece of the puzzle. And consumers will say produce is expensive for reasons beyond the price.

They may be concerned about understanding how to select, handle and prepare fresh produce.

Or they may be concerned that their families won’t like it. We have remedies for all of that as well — teach consumers how to choose, handle and prepare fresh produce.

Everyone in our industry, including our trade publications, needs to advocate for produce and debunk myths like this. We must reclaim and shape our brand.

The research shows produce doesn’t have to be expensive, and our industry has the tools to help consumers choose and use fresh fruits and vegetables successfully.

If we don’t stick up for produce and counter myths when we hear them, who will?