Aaaahhh it’s back! The arrival on my doorstep (or to be more exact in my e-mail box) of the news that The Food and Drug Administration published its final rule regarding “Food Labeling: Guidelines for Voluntary Nutrition Labeling of Raw Fruits, Vegetables and Fish” brought back tons of memories. When the very first regulations were published back in 1991, the Produce Marketing Association took a leadership role in making sure that an easy-to-use package, complete with in-store poster, video and workbook, was made available to produce retailers in order to accelerate compliance and thus avoid the possibility of mandatory regulation. Dole stepped up to the plate and funded the program and your friendly Pundit, along with the partner who got me into consulting in a big way, the late, great, Stan Silverzweig, were hired to write, design and execute the program in conjunction with PMA’s staff and retail board.
The deadlines were tight and I vividly remember a long night at a photo studio laying produce out on a large board painted with yellow lines to look like a highway. We were shooting the photography for posters themed, The Road to Good Living.
That poster, video and workbook are long gone. PMA still offers a voluntary nutrition labeling program, which you can buy right here. Though I am sure they will update it for the new rule, this latest rule isn’t required (or as required as a voluntary rule can be) until January 1, 2008, although anyone can use the new statistics effective immediately.
Though there is minor jiggling of nutritional labels and serving sizes for many of the listed products, perhaps the most significant change is that when retailers are providing nutrition labeling information for more than one fruit, vegetable or raw fish variety, they can now specify that the they provide negligible amounts of trans fat, in addition to saturated fat and cholesterol. Fish have to add negligible amounts of dietary fiber and sugars. With trans fats being such a topic of concern this may help.
Here are the top produce and fish products sold fresh — not canned or frozen — listed alphabetically:
|Top 20 Fruits|
|Top 20 Vegetables|
|Bell Pepper||Leaf Lettuce|
|Green (Snap) Beans||Sweet Corn|
|Green Cabbage||Sweet Potato|
|Top 20 Fish|
|Flounder/Sole||Salmon (Atlantic/Coho/ Chinook/Sockeye/Chum/Pink)|
A quick look at the above lists makes you think about the merchandising opportunities the industry is missing. We sometimes split our efforts into the very top few items and then add specialties for variety and differentiation. But we have major items here that are almost never given innovative merchandising approaches.
A great guide to merchandising loads of fresh produce items is published each year in PRODUCE BUSINESS. If you are a retailer and need another copy of the Masters of Merchandising supplement, give us your name, title, company and address and we’ll get you a copy, compliments of the Pundit.