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    Fresh Produce Q2 Sales 'Brighter' by 5%

    PMA initiative spurs gains for long-term participants

    Fresh produce sales are seeing promising, positive gains since the launch of the Produce Marketing Association's "eat brighter!" initiative which grants royalty-free access to Sesame Street character images for consumer marketing campaigns.

    Quarterly research surveys administered by PMA show second-quarter sales gains of 5 percent, including a 3 percent average increase in year-over-year comp sales, as reported by eat brighter! participants, some of which reported increases as high as 11 percent.

    Since the launch of the program, which has been extended through 2018 largely due to the success created by its 110 participants, the PMA Research Center has conducted three quarterly surveys, a compilation of results of which also find:

    • Of the suppliers in market, 75 percent have reported an increase in year-over-year sales.
    • Of the suppliers who have been in market for three quarters, the average increase is 5.3 percent.

    First Lady Michelle Obama said the data is tremendously heartening. “With produce sales rising three percent on average for participating companies – and with some reporting increases as high as 11 percent – it's very clear that the eat brighter! campaign is working brilliantly. I am so thrilled to see Sesame Street and produce suppliers and retailers coming together to get our kids excited about healthy eating, and I look forward to seeing more companies come on board to grow the momentum.  Thanks, Elmo and Big Bird!”

    In a letter to members, PMA President Cathy Burns said: “This is an encouraging sign, and we’re thrilled that participants are able to take the eat brighter! assets, available through an unprecedented program agreement with Sesame Workshop, and turn it into results like these. Now that the program has been extended through 2018, we look forward to seeing positive growth in this trend as more kids and families experience eat brighter! in stores.”

    The movement’s success also led to the recent expansion of the program in Mexico, allowing produce marketers, retailers, school foodservice and promotional organizations who sell product there to participate.

    In his view, Chris Veillon, director of marketing for NatureFresh Farms, feels the eat brighter! program "has been a great promotional vehicle for us since signing on in early 2015. We saw an opportunity to broaden our reach with branded packaging that would have an immediate impact at store level. We have watched customers with kids gravitate to the Sesame Street packaging and put back non-branded packaging they had in their carts. The kids are definitely the decision makers."

    Emmy Nom Adds Extra Sheen

    Several eat brighter! champions, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Sesame Street’s Big Bird and NBC Parks and Recreation comedian and FunnyOrDie.com regular Billy Eichner of "Billy on the Street," were recognized with an Emmy nomination for their work on the eat brighter! comedic video launched in February. From the time the Emmy nomination was announced, the video garnered tens of thousands of additional views.

    “Healthier options are now trending in the United States,” said Lawrence A. Soler, PHA CEO. “PHA partners like PMA and Sesame Workshop are leading the way by making fruits and vegetables more fun for kids, and increasing consumer demand for these healthier options.”

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