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Supermarket dietitians gathered to talk shop at a three-day symposium coordinated by the Produce for Better Health Foundation during PMA’s 2013 Fresh Summit in New Orleans.
The overall goal of the event was to connect retail dietitians with food companies committed to improving public health by increasing consumption and educational awareness of the benefits of fruit and vegetables.
“When you consider that Americans make more than 60 trips per household per year to the grocery store, registered dietitians, many of whom work in supermarkets and engage with customers, are ideally positioned to make a positive impact in changing the way people eat for better health,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of PBH. “We must leverage their access to and credibility with consumers to move the consumption needle toward a healthier America.”
The symposium drew in 25 registered dietitians from 15 states, representing 22 banners and nearly 4,500 stores nationwide. They heard about the latest trends and information in the produce industry, while also networking with peers.
Supermarket dietitians and food industry partners participated in the following four workshops:
Produce Industry 101: Dr. Edward McLaughlin, Robert G. Tobin professor of marketing, Cornell University, presented a comprehensive overview of the produce industry, exploring the strategies and analytical techniques employed to address both classical and contemporary problems faced by retailers and offering insights and resources to enhance in-store engagement and outreach.
Understanding Genetically Modified Foods: Dr. Bruce Chassy, professor emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, lectured on genetically modified foods. Chassy offered a science-based discussion to debunk and rebut misinformation regarding GMO’s and the labeling issue. Food safety is a major concern, so providing attendees with information and perspective to better educate consumers was an essential focus for this session.
The Tools You Need to Convince Your Company to Promote Fruit & Veggies: A popular supermarket Q & A panel discussion was moderated by PBH's Pivonka. Attendees gained valuable insight and advice for developing strong relationships across all departments in the store and at the corporate level to maximize impact of nutrition promotions, in-store engagement and community outreach. The panel included Gaines Chamberlain, business development manager, Blanc Industries, formerly with Food Lion; Terrance Murphy, produce procurement manager, Wakefern Food Corp.; Katie Stitzel, RD, Giant Eagle; and Kristen Stevens, COO, PBH.
Talking Points About Fruit & Vegetable Issues: Pivonka provided an overview of science-based talking points about issues particular to fruits and vegetables. Topics covered included: common questions/concerns about produce including pesticide residues, organics, the "Dirty Dozen," processing of fruit and veggies, current fruit and vegetable consumption levels, and cost concerns.