Published on: October 15, 2014by Kate McMahon
For produce industry veteran Maggie Bezart Hall, the Pink Ribbon Produce campaign is personal. Very personal.
And when the 56-year-old breast cancer survivor addresses the topic this Saturday at the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention and Expo in Anaheim, she has a challenge for both growers and retailers.
“We have to do more to get the message out about the importance of nutrition -- a diet high in fruits and vegetables -- in preventing cancer,” she told MNB in a phone interview.
The Pink Ribbon Produce campaign began in 2006, with the goal of increasing breast cancer prevention and awareness by promoting healthy eating habits to reduce the risk of disease.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the effort uses in-store and social media components to direct consumers to participating “pink ribbon” partners at in the produce section of three retailers – Harris Teeter, Meijer and Price Chopper.
“It’s about path to purchase, and motivating consumers to make smart decisions on what they are buying and eating,” said Debbie Augustine, whose Roseville, CA advertising agency AugustineIdeas created and implements to the campaign.
To keep shoppers engaged in the ever-changing social media landscape, the campaign now features the “Fresh Plate Challenge” on Instagram. It encourages participants to create and post a photo of a plate with 50% fruits and vegetables, and using at least one partner product, for a chance to win a $250 retailer gift card and a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation in their name.
“People like to share, and it’s a win-win for retailers and their supplying partners,” said Augustine, noting PRP has also raised more than $400,000 for the breast cancer prevention and research.
The list of partners varies between Harris Teeter, Meijer and Price Chopper, but there is certainly enough variety to create a colorful, healthy fresh plate for the photo challenge. The producers and the three chains will be recognized at PMA this weekend, and that is when Maggie Bezart Hall will make her pitch.
“There isn’t anyone who hasn’t been touched by breast cancer,” said Maggie, who underwent five surgeries and intense chemotherapy after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in May 2012. Now a survivor, she said: “I believe in paying it forward. I want to educate others.
“It’s easy to change the way you think and eat once you have cancer. You have to. The key is to prevent it.”
With 35 years in the produce industry and in her current role as Vice President of Trade & Promotion for Avocados From Mexico, she speaks with both nutritional/scientific knowledge and a passion to help others.
She believes both the produce “supply side and selling side” have a responsibility to promote health and education – in a way that transcends the bottom line. There will be many messages delivered at PMA this weekend, but I think Maggie’s may be the most important one.
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