Marketing Increases Fruit and Vegetables Consumption When Policy Fails

First Posted: Sep 14, 2012 06:54 AM EDT

For long the debate on merits of agricultural marketing programs to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, has remained inconclusive. But the new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion claims that the key to getting people eat more fruits and vegetables is through advertising.

"Marketing seems to play a role in guiding people to eat better," said study co-author Michel Faupel, of the University of Arkansas. "It's not huge, but it's a measurable impact."

The study was based on the surveys that were held in 2000 and 2005 of 237,320 people in the U.S, in which participants were asked about their eating habits.

The states that adopted this marketing campaign during that time, the percentage of those who reported they ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day grew from 24 percent to 26.5 percent.

The researchers noticed a great difference in women.

"During a period of time when fresh produce consumption was decreasing nationally, the states that had these programs did not follow the national trend," Faupel said. "Instead their produce consumption stayed level or it increased slightly."

Harry Kaiser, Ph.D., a professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, said the study findings are similar to those of his own research into the value of produce marketing programs. "When we look at any sort of advertising of general commodities, they generally have a positive impact. But they're pretty minor," he said.

 He concluded saying, "From an industry standpoint, you don't have to have a humongous impact for it to be profitable."

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