Produce First! Initiative Attracts More Retailers

Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Culinary Institute of America are collaborating to promote fruits and vegetables on restaurant and foodservice menus through the Produce First! American Menu Initiative. Supermarket representative attendance at the event is increasing, according to Jill Le Brasseur, spokeswoman for the Produce for Better Health Foundation. The number of

WILMINGTON, Del. — Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Culinary Institute of America are collaborating to promote fruits and vegetables on restaurant and foodservice menus through the Produce First! American Menu Initiative.

Supermarket representative attendance at the event is increasing, according to Jill Le Brasseur, spokeswoman for the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

“The number of supermarket executives attending the event [has been] increasing because of a couple of things,” Le Brasseur told SN. “First off, there's an emerging trend right now where a lot of supermarkets are offering ready-to-go meals for people. They're preparing pretty much restaurant-quality meals and offering them to their customers to pick up on the way home for an evening meal, or even to pop in for a lunch.”

Le Brasseur added that another reason retailer attendance has increased is because news of the efforts of Produce First! to increase fruit and vegetable menu items has spread through word of mouth.

The American Menu Initiative, to be held at the Culinary Institute's Greystone Campus in St. Helena, Calif., on Jan. 25, 2009, will be the fourth annual invitation-only event and will feature sponsor representatives, as well as foodservice attendees.

“When you come to Produce First!, you're interacting with people in the produce industry, the restaurant industry — people in all aspects of foodservice. And what I think is particularly important for retailers is, if something becomes a hot trend on a restaurant menu, pretty soon it's going to be a hot trend in the supermarket venue — it seems to flow that way,” Le Brasseur said.

“So coming to Produce First! would get your finger on the pulse of where the trends are moving, and if you're interested in offering some of those pickup take-home dinners or lunches, this is a wonderful place to find recipes and opportunity to interact with other professionals where you can get a taste of what's to come.”