As consumers increasingly turn to their retailer for nutrition education, Supermarket Registered Dietitians (SRDs) continue to be critical consumer-facing marketing tools for supermarkets. In a recent study among 1,500 food retailers and wholesalers, 85 percent employ dietitians at the corporate level, half employ dietitians on a regional level and 33 percent of all stores have an on-site dietitian who aids shoppers seeking the best foods to drop weight, battle diseases, avoid allergic reactions, or improve their eating habits and lifestyle.
To engage this growing sector of the food industry, the California Avocado Commission (CAC) launched a yearlong SRD/Retail Communications Program at the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Annual Conference in mid-March. Throughout the year, CAC partnered with SRDs at key nationwide accounts who supported California avocados with in-store demos, media appearances, community health and wellness events and cooking classes.
The yearlong initiative came full circle at the PBH SRDs at Fresh Summit event. Twenty-four SRDs from 14 states, plus one from Canada, attended the event representing more than 7,600 stores from across the nation and Canada. To kick off the event, Jan DeLyser, CAC vice president of marketing, provided an overview of CAC’s new label initiative during her Opening Session presentation. As a platinum sponsor of the event, CAC provided SRDs with a branded shoulder bag including the California Fresh Snacking Nutrition Fact Sheet, CAC’s California Avocado journal, a CAC Twitter Contest card and a California Fresh Snacking recipe booklet.
Throughout the Fresh Summit, SRDs were encouraged to enter CAC’s “Tweet to Win” social media contest. Fifty percent of the SRD attendees participated in the three-phase contest, sharing multiple California avocado Tweets and photos with their consumer audiences.
The Commission also hosted four 20-minute booth meetings with small groups of SRDs, providing CAC staff with the opportunity to communicate key messages as well as brainstorm ideas to promote California avocados at the store level. DeLyser began each meeting with an overview of CAC’s marketing support programs, materials and resources. Registered Dietitian Katie Ferraro then conducted a recipe demonstration and Q&A session. In support of CAC’s Fresh Snacking initiatives, SRDs also were provided with a video of Katie preparing California Avocado Cucumber Cups and a demo guide to accompany the video.
The event ended with a private tour of the Rancho Mission Viejo avocado grove followed by a multi-course avocado-centric dinner highlighting the versatility of California avocados.
Through the sponsorship of the Fresh Summit SRD event, the Commission was able to garner powerful endorsements from this trusted audience.