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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
extent of healthy new product innovations across the food and beverage industry, there are encouraging signs, with leading food and beverage companies (e.g., General Mills, PepsiCo/Quaker Oats, and Kraft Foods) responding with product innovations targeting healthier nutrition profiles. Many of these products are designed to help consumers meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 and offer other benefits, such as increasing whole-grain consumption, encouraging low-fat dairy consumption, and reducing calorie consumption to help consumers balance their calorie intake with their energy expenditure (GMA, 2006). Increases in promotional spending by the larger produce brands (e.g., Dole, Chiquita, and Sunkist) are also apparent, and there has been a leveraging of both private-sector resources (e.g., public service announcements produced through in-kind media, food retailer, and other producer support or commodity board inkind support) and public-sector resources (e.g., USDA and National 5 a Day partner support) to create an awareness among consumers about the need to increase fruit and vegetable intake through a multisectoral national action plan (PBH, 2005a,c). Many of their activities are targeted to children and youth.
In an effort to overcome the taste barrier, which consumers often provide as a reason for their lower than recommended levels of vegetable consumption, companies such as General Mills’ Green Giant brand are packaging frozen vegetables with sauces that complement the vegetables and make their taste more desirable (General Mills, 2006a). As the parent company for Cascadian Farm®, General Mills is expanding efforts to provide organic fruits and vegetables to the mainstream marketplace by meeting the demand of a growing segment of consumers for organic and natural foods (General Mills, 2006a).
The senior-level management of PepsiCo has committed to the goal of having 50 percent of its revenues from new products come from its healthful branded product category. According to the company representative who made a presentation at the IOM symposium on industry, the rate of sales of these products is growing at approximately three times the rate for the rest of the company’s product portfolio. Kraft Foods has set similar goals for its business and is also seeing strong growth in demand for its healthier products in the marketplace. This demand may serve to drive competition further and may result in innovation within companies to reformulate existing products or to develop new products such that they can be tagged with the healthy icon or logo. The increased demand may also reaffirm the commitments by corporations to supply healthful products in the marketplace (Appendix H).
These examples highlight the type of leadership required to stimulate broader change within the food, beverage, and restaurant industries. If the largest global companies make these types of commitments and implement