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The Canadian Produce Marketing Association announced during a Feb. 16 webinar that it will launch a new consumer marketing campaign March 1.

Melanie Richer, senior manager of marketing and communications for the association, used a slide show to highlight CPMA's new marketing campaign, known as Fruits & Veggies Mix it Up!

"We have taken today's landscape into consideration in developing the new campaign," Ms. Richer said in the webinar. "Statistics show that more than two-thirds of obese children will be obese adults. Approximately 70 percent of children are not getting the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables."

She continued, "The new campaign is tri-lateral. It includes our updated web site, advertising and media placement, social marketing, public relations, promotions, retail point-of-purchase materials and foodservice initiatives."

Ms. Richer added that the association and its members will be working together to help get the message out to consumers of the need to increase their fresh produce consumption. The campaign also includes collaboration with schools.

"In-school and kid's programs are a big part of the campaign," she said. "Information dissemination will be offered to health organizations, teachers and other groups. Study groups have shown that consumers are responding to information that helps them fulfill their needs, and healthy lifestyle campaigns are prolific. But consumers are inundated with messaging today. They want information presented in an engaging manner. To stand out, fruits and vegetables must be the star of the campaign."

The campaign is all about action, Ms. Richer said. It will communicate to consumers how to get more fruits and vegetables into their diets in fun ways. Fruits & Veggies Mix it Up! will use whimsical and eye-catching graphics of characters whose bodies are made of fruits and vegetables, such as carrot legs and strawberry heads.

The television campaign will show these characters dancing. A radio presentation in both English and French will have the same upbeat tone. Posters aimed at adults include the food guide and daily serving recommendations. Another poster developed specifically for teens will offer information the age group can assimilate.

Produce companies can take advantage of the graphics by using the fruits and vegetables they offer to create their own customized produce character.

A new web site that supports the campaign, www.fruitsandveggies.ca, will be on-line in conjunction with the March 1 launch and will offer many variations of ways for CPMA members to get involved.


Childrens' program
"We will have a dedicated interactive web site, www.freggietales.com, with games, fun facts, kid-friendly recipes, contests and much more to keep kids entertained," said Ms. Richer. "Our 'Freggie' mascot, who is also a character made of fruits and vegetables, is very popular with kids. They love to high- five him during his appearances. We will continue to use 'Freggie' at school presentations and other venues."

"Freggie Tales" is the promotion efforts of the 5 to 10 a day campaign for elementary school children. "Freggie" and "Freggie Tales" are designed to provide children with the opportunity to learn about fruits and vegetables in a fun and exciting manner.

The "Freggie Friday" pilot project shows promise of being a valuable classroom tool. Developed for elementary school children, it includes teacher's guides, newsletters and contests. The program is structured in a way that complements a school curriculum, providing educators with an avenue to teach core subjects while advancing the importance of good nutrition and a healthy, balanced diet. An electronic version is now being tested to determine how it will work in schools.


Association overview
Also during the webinar, Lyse McClelland, manager of membership development for the association, presented an overview of the organization's functions and member benefits, with emphasis on the MyCPMA on-line member portal.

Describing the multiple services that the association offers its members, Ms. McClelland said in the webinar, "CPMA's vision is to increase the market for fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada by encouraging cooperation and information exchange among all segments of the industry. The CPMA is in its 85th year of service to the industry. We have 15 dedicated employees and a board of directors who work diligently to bring value to our members and to the produce industry."

The CPMA represents all sectors of the produce supply chain. Its members are comprised of growers, repackers, wholesalers, distributors, brokers and all others who are involved in the industry. Although it is a Canadian organization, its members are based in many countries around the world.

"One key action area we focus strongly on is food safety," Ms. McClelland said. "This is a very important part of CPMA. We are committed to implementation on a nationwide standard. We provide industry solutions and information on food safety, and we support those efforts with the tools we provide,” such as workbooks, interactive training tools and consumer information.

"Government relations are another key action area for CPMA," Ms. McClelland continued. "We provide forums on a wide range of initiatives. One of major importance is the Fresh Produce Alliance." Formed in 2004, the Fresh Produce Alliance is an alliance of the Canadian Horticultural Council and the CPMA as well as the Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp.

"All of the projects that the FPA has or will be engaged in relate to promoting fair and ethical trade," said Ms. McClelland. "As markets expand, distances between buyers and sellers increase, and that increases the ease with which people are able to enter the business. This creates an environment in which slow-pay and no-pay situations can escalate. FPA's objective is to insure international acceptance and to help to reduce litigation throughout the supply chain. This initiative also helps to strengthen food safety and security on products imported to Canada."

Ms. McClelland's presentation also addressed the organization's guide to pandemic and pathogens and labeling compliance. During her presentation, she asked webinar participants to take part in a poll. They were asked if they knew if their products met Canadian standards. Of those polled, 55 percent said they did not know if their products met the country's standards.

She also addressed CPMA's advocacy on health and nutrition education for consumers, industry efficiency technology, industry education through webinars, websites and seminars. And she highlighted the "Produce Now” newsletter and the annual Fresh Excellence Fraicheur convention and trade show, which will be held May 12-14 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

A walkthrough of MyCPMA, the members' personal link on www.cpma.com, demonstrated the many advantages that members gain by participating, including updated news, contact options and CPMA's programs and services.

"The goal of MyCPMA is to assist members in understanding the strength of CPMA," said Ms. McClelland.