The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Birds Eye pledges $6 million to kid 'GenVeg' campaign

The Birds Eye frozen food company today joined The Partnership for a Healthier America, the private sector partnership that works with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address childhood obesity, a move that was welcomed by Sam Kass, the White House deputy chef and senior adviser on healthy eating initiatives.

At “The Weight of the Nation,” a Washington conference co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine, Birds Eye announced that it will spend a minimum of $6 million over three years on the development of frozen vegetables for children and promoting their consumption.
Sally Genster Robling

Sally Genster Robling
The principal marketing and advertising effort will be through Nickelodeon’s live-action series “iCarly.” The company will also distribute 50 million coupons and bring to market two kid-inspired vegetable products to be launched nationally, Sally Genster Robling, president of the Birds Eye Frozen Division, said at a news conference.

Birds Eye's decision to advertise its vegetables follows a key piece of advice from the first lady, who has said that cutting back on the advertising of less healthy foods is not enough, and that companies need to advertise foods that are good for children.

Sam Kass

Sam Kass
Kass attended the news conference and pronounced Birds Eye’s participation in the partnership as “incredibly exciting.” He also praised Birds Eye for “tapping into its creative powers” by asking children to help develop vegetable products and added, “This is the kind of partnership that can really make a difference.”

Saying frozen vegetables “are a great way to get affordable vegetables” to the American people, Kass – when asked by The Hagstrom Report if he cooks with frozen vegetables – said only “I cook with every vegetable under the sun.”

Kass noted that he has a steady supply of vegetables at his disposal in the first lady’s kitchen garden on the South Lawn of the White House. Last year the White House installed hoop houses so that the garden could produce vegetables in winter, a practice that the Agriculture Department is encouraging in colder climate states.

The first lady also issued a statement saying, “I'm proud that Birds Eye and the Partnership for a Healthier America have come together to make the healthy choice the easy choice for families, and I hope more companies step up to help our kids grow up healthy and strong.”

Robling declined to get into the debate over whether fresh or frozen vegetables are better and whether frozen vegetables are “greener” than imported fresh vegetables because they are transported a shorter distance, but said that the price of fresh vegetables versus frozen depends on whether the fresh vegetables are in season.

But she added that key values to consumers are the lack of waste with frozen vegetables and the ease of preparation, particularly for busy working mothers.

Birds Eye said it was making the following commitments:
  • The company will spend at least $2 million per year for each of three calendar years – 2012, 2013 and 2014 – to marketing and advertising encouraging children to enjoy and consume vegetables.
  • In 2012, the “GenVeg” campaign will appear on Nickelodeon and specifically on the series “iCarly,” with potential TV, radio, digital, print, in-store and retailer-specific campaigns as well as other communication vehicles.
  • At least one-third of the “GenVeg” television messages will reach women age 26-54 with children between ages 6and 11 and household income of $30,000 or less.
  • Each of the new Birds Eye products must meet 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the company will introduce these products to retailers nationwide.
  • The company to distribute over three years at least 50 million coupons with price reductions of at least 50 percent off, tied to the “GenVeg” children’s campaign.
  • Robling said Birds Eye has agreed to work with an independent verifier to report the progress of their commitment for PHA’s annual report. Drew Mannis, a spokesman for the partnership, said that the group will issue its first report on member performance next April.