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Produce packaging and the new dietary guidelines

Packaging could play an important role in helping consumers adhere to the new USDA dietary guidelines that call for increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.

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The new food pyramid from the United States Department of Agriculture recommends consuming five to 13 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, compared to five to nine with the previous pyramid. With the average American eating just 4 1/2 servings a day, the new guidelines present quite a challenge for most of us.

The United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Assn., Washington, DC, sees this as an opportunity for its 1ꯠ-plus members that range from grower-shippers to packers to retailers. Where does packaging fit into this equation? Packaging Insights asked Keira Franz, the association’s director of legislative affairs.

“I think there are a variety of things the new dietary guidelines can mean for packaging, including the addition of more information where there’s sufficient space to do so. Packaging could include the new logo that USDA and Health & Human Services have developed. Packaging is a key way to convey that information and any sort of visual stimulation of ideas and education is very important.”

Franz believes the new dietary guidelines fit into current trends to “make it more convenient and easier for consumers to eat on the go, or make it less time-consuming to prepare at home. We’re all short on time generally speaking, so a lot of the fresh cut or convenience packages such as carrots and dip or apple slices and a fat-free caramel dip make it a little more enticing to students and makes them willing to try it. When kids are exposed to something they like, it definitely becomes a driver for parents to purchase and provide that to their kids.”

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