Be Our Voice Blog

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Eat 'Em Like Junk Food? New Approaches to Marketing Healthy Snacks

Posted by: Erin Ellingwood

It’s no secret that Americans struggle to get their two or more fruit servings and three or more vegetables servings per day. In fact, the latest CDC statistics from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System show that only 32.5% of adults are eating the recommended daily servings of fruit and only 26.3% are eating the daily recommended servings of vegetables. But what are concerned individuals to do? In the end, unhealthy snacks are just more readily available and cheaper for adults and kids than are healthy snacks.

Some private companies are out to change that imbalance. The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reported last Halloween that A Bunch of Carrot Farmers™ (led by Bolthouse Farms) launched an ambitious campaign to rebrand baby carrots. The “Eat 'Em Like Junk Food” campaign was taken nationwide with the release of Scarrots, “a new kind of Halloween treat.” Carrots came in mini-packages and included glow-in-the-dark tattoos. But did kids go for it? "We've been blown away by the response to this campaign," said Jeff Dunn, chief executive officer, Bolthouse Farms. The company is following up the success of Scarrots with Super Bowl-themed packaging. More pictures and information can be found on their website, And if this packaging is not available in your area, the website offers a place where you can write Bolthouse Farms and “tell [them] why [they] should bring ‘em to your city.”


But carrots aren’t the only thing getting a makeover in the snack world. As the Wall Street Journal reported last October, “Fresh Del Monte Produce and a vending-machine maker, the Wittern Group, collaborated on a machine specially engineered to dispense fresh-cut fruits and veggies — even easily bruised bananas.” The machine—which went on the market in 2010—has two temperature zones. The top is loaded with bananas kept at about 57 degrees. The bottom zone—kept at about 34 degrees—holds packages of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. The vending machine is already in some schools and sells for more than $5,000 compared to about $3,000 for a typical machine.

And even though adults seem more reluctant to pick fruits and veggies over chips and soda, recent research shows that children may be more likely to choose healthy snacks as long as the packaging features familiar cartoon characters. Using characters to market healthy foods was perhaps more prevalent in the pop culture of years past (remember Popeye and his spinach?), but it’s seeing a comeback today in characters like those from Veggie Tales. Of course, the implications of character marketing to kids make some parents and experts uncomfortable, which is why fun packaging like the kind used for these baby carrots—that doesn’t feature popular cartoon characters—is being met with such applause.

In the end, every child may not be getting the recommended daily servings of fruit and veggies yet, but innovations like these may help combat the stereotype that snacks have to be unhealthy to be fun and tasty.


Pushing Fruits and Veggies With Junk Food Tactics

The Great Banana Challenge—How to Dispense Healthy Snacks From A Vending Machine

State-Specific Trends in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults --- United States, 2000-2009

Influence of Licensed Characters on Children's Taste and Snack Preferences

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General Childhood Obesity  Healthy Kids