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Hold the top sirloin, fried chicken and barbecue. A study conducted by Monterey, CA-based Dole Fresh Vegetables suggests that residents of a number of U.S. cities known for their meat-eating ways may actually prefer salad.

The internal study named 21 markets as Top Salad Cities in the United States, which means that local residents in these markets eat more salad per person than their counterparts in other U.S. cities, have the potential to eat more salad or are more likely to try new salad blends, experiment with salad and salad ingredients in the kitchen, or serve salad as a meal.

The 18-month research effort, part of the company's relaunch of its reinvented salads line, surveyed the in-store buying habits and in-home consumption trends of prepackaged salad consumers throughout the United States and Canada.

According to Russell Evans, senior brand manager for Dole Fresh Vegetables, the list of Top Salad Cities shows a number of markets -- such as Wichita, KS; Dallas; Houston; Kansas City, MO; Detroit; and Louisville, KY -- known more for meat than the green stuff.

"Despite their reputation as meat-eating capitals, many of the cities on our list qualify as sophisticated salad markets and home to an increasing number of salad lovers," Mr. Evans said in a Nov. 30 press release. "We'd like to think that meat lovers in these cities are more likely to add a salad to their favorite entrees - while consumers in all 21 salad cities are more inclined to use salad as a meal or as the basis for creative new lunch and dinner entrees. From a salad standpoint, these cities are definite trendsetters."

As part of its ongoing mission to get Americans to eat salad again, and facing new evidence showing that Americans are less interested in salads at a time when the latest health research suggests they need them most, Dole is launching its re-imagined bagged salad line designed to reignite the country's fascination with -- and consumption of -- fresh, prepackaged salads.

The reinvented "Dole" salads arrived in supermarkets in the United States and Canada this fall as one of the more ambitious salad relaunches in history, complete with 32 separate blends and nine salad kits. Highlights of the redeveloped line include a new pinch-and-pull easy-open salad bag; the Dole salad guide, the first-ever on-pack rating of the taste and texture characteristics of each salad blend; and a new pairs-well-with section featuring serving suggestions and a recipe unique to that blend.

The redeveloped line is being introduced via a comprehensive multimedia campaign featuring a new Dole salad guide spokesperson. Dole will be specifically targeting salad consumers in the 21 salad cities.

Dole salads are part of a larger commitment by Dole and the Dole Nutrition Institute to increase the nutritional health of Americans and work to reverse a number of negative health trends, among them the proliferation of poor diets and inactivity as leading causes of preventable death. Concurrent with these trends, researchers at Dole and elsewhere are rapidly discovering new compounds in fruits and vegetables that have the potential to prevent disease and extend life.

Determined via private research conducted by Dole Fresh Vegetables and based on a combination of per-capita consumption, consumption potential and consumer willingness to try new salad blends and experiment with salads in the kitchen, the markets below were identified as the top 21 salad cities.

Albany-Schenectady, NY; Buffalo, NY; Cincinnati; Columbus, OH; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Flint-Saginaw, MI; Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, MI; Harford- New Haven, CT; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, MO; Lansing, MI; Los Angeles; Louisville, KY; New York; Phoenix; Richmond-Petersburg, VA; Salt Lake City; and Wichita-Hutchinson, KS.