Groups Move to Put More Produce on Restaurant Plates

Oct 09, 2009
Ron Margulis

By Ron Margulis,
Managing Director, RAM Communications

The Produce
Marketing Association, National
Restaurant Association and International Foodservice Distributors Association
joined forces earlier this year to identify opportunities to increase
fresh produce use in foodservice to promote healthy lifestyles. At the
PMA Annual
Convention earlier this week, the association’s president, Bryan Silbermann,
gave specifics on the effort. Results from research
the groups conducted showed that restaurant operators view fresh produce
as a point of differentiation. Nearly three of four restaurant operators
said emphasizing fresh produce in their marketing yields more customers,
67 percent want more fresh produce options from suppliers and 41 percent
said they expect to serve more fresh produce in the next two years.

research led to the three associations to set the goal of doubling
foodservice use of fresh produce by 2020. The group also identified
five collaborative strategies, including:

  • Re-imagining
    the restaurant experience, with produce having a stronger presence
    and telling its story from field to fork;
  • Improving
    consumer confidence in fresh produce, including product safety, trust
    and integrity;
  • Demonstrating
    social responsibility, balancing the needs of people, the planet and
  • Fostering
    closer collaboration among the industry sectors, including operators,
    distributors and grower/shippers; and
  • Fostering
    closer collaboration with government and other stakeholders.

Silbermann said, "Achieving this goal will require work, focus and
the highest level of collaboration and commitment from our three associations
… and we’re starting down that path by creating a new long-term Foodservice
2020 Steering Committee focused on bringing our three association’s
collective power together to address our goal."

Question: What will it take for PMA, NRA and IFDA to succeed in their
effort to double produce consumption at restaurants by 2020?

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6 Comments on "Groups Move to Put More Produce on Restaurant Plates"

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Len Lewis
Len Lewis
11 years 7 months ago

Start with the kids. Opinions are formed at an early age. Start a strong program for produce in the schools. I realize this is not the most lucrative route, but they are your future customers–the ones that will pick up the produce from your shelves and your menus.

Also, start showing fledgling chefs at culinary schools how to use fresh produce more. I found it amusing when one of the chef contestants on last year’s Top Chef program, when faced with using an array of produce said: “Why would anyone want vegetables when there’s meat?” Attitude, attitude, attitude!

David Livingston
11 years 7 months ago

Any time you see the word “collaboration” used too many times in a story it indicates someone has a problem but wants someone else to solve it. This issue will resolve itself if it is worth resolving. Obviously, consumers will need to change their behavior.

The meat producers and their organizations will most likely want to fight back and tell us how great eating meat is. If produce starts to push meat off the plate, expect the meat producers to react with their own strategy to get more meat consumption.

John Crossman
John Crossman
11 years 7 months ago

I was just discussing this issue this morning. I am glad to see this happening. It used to be optional but I think society is learning more and more that the greater health of the community is important.

Ryan Mathews
11 years 7 months ago

Getting it onto to the plate isn’t the problem, it’s getting it down the throat and that will require a revolution in child-rearing, parent education, institutional meal planning, etc. In a society where food is fuel, it’s hard to understand how you build a sustainable effort to change the eating patterns of a nation addicted to instant caloric intake.

Ralph Jacobson
11 years 7 months ago

The health/wellness/nutrition global campaign has never had more traction than it has right now. Timing could not be better. I cannot believe that anyone will object to this. If the ingredient costs rise because of this, there will have to be adjustments at the restaurant level to maintain profitability. However, the agenda seems sound.

Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
11 years 7 months ago

Food trends usually start with restaurants, and new foods can become mainstream. If the approach is to offer produce that tastes great because it is fresh and well prepared, this may lead to better choices and changes in longer-term healthier eating. However, unless the taste, fun, and convenience are there, a path to more produce on our plates is still a long journey.


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