PBH TO TILL FOR 5 A DAY SUPPORTERS OUTSIDE INDUSTRY

NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce for Better Health Foundation here will push harder to get organizations outside the industry to more directly promote its goal of increasing the per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables.At the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association's Convention in Orlando, Fla., PBH's president of three months, Elizabeth Pivonka, said she is committed not only to convincing

NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce for Better Health Foundation here will push harder to get organizations outside the industry to more directly promote its goal of increasing the per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables.

At the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association's Convention in Orlando, Fla., PBH's president of three months, Elizabeth Pivonka, said she is committed not only to convincing the produce industry to do more to promote the 5 a Day for Better Health message, but also to getting schools, health care providers and nonproduce corporations more involved.

"In addition, we want to try to get people to use our public service announcement, and get people to, perhaps, pay to have our PSA on prime-time television," she said. "We can't do that nationally, but perhaps we can do it at the local level."

Despite PBH's goal to broaden participation, however, Pivonka said the future of the 5 a Day program remains in the hands and pockets of those who can reap the greatest reward: the produce industry.

"The best thing you can [put] on your product to promote increased sales is to promote the 5 a Day program," Pivonka said.

She said she hopes to see 75% of supermarkets promoting 5 a Day by the year 2000; to see at least 20 major national restaurant chains alter their menus to have more fruits and vegetables; and to get all the nation's schools saturated with the message.

"We want to influence purchase decisions where people make food choices," she said. "So if that means at the grocery store, at restaurants, at schools, at work sites, wherever people buy food, we want to make sure that we are there trying to influence their purchase decisions."

PBH began several months ago to publicize its Regional Partnership Program, a planned marketing blitz for major media markets. Pivonka said the foundation hopes the program will be grounded in 20 markets by the turn of the century.

Work is already under way in the first market, Philadelphia, she said, but she did not name other targets.

The foundation has begun conducting feasibility studies in Florida, Ohio and California, and has piqued some interest in Washington and Texas.

During the campaign's first three years, the PBH tracked the amount of money the industry spent on "in-kind" promotions, which included putting the logo on packaging, doing in-store promotions and providing educational materials using the logo or message.

In 1992, the produce industry was spending about $18 million on the 5 a Day program, and that figure rocketed to about $44 million in 1993. In 1995, the industry put about $50 million into the program.

Pivonka said 5 a Day has come far, but the industry needs to move it further ahead. "I would estimate probably only 15% to 20% of the products that could carry the 5 a Day logo are actually carrying the logo," she said. "The more they see that message, the more it hits home."

The PBH and the National Cancer Institute are pleased with the success the program has had, she said. The NCI, Bethesda, Md., which co-founded the program, recently concluded in a study that "5 a Day is far more successful than it should be, given the budget that it has to work with," Pivonka said.