N° 14 | July 2007

The new French campaign: “Half of our plate ”

“To reverse the strong tendencies in falling fresh fruit and vegetable consumption” is an approach which the fruit and vegetable sector in France have been engaged in since 1981, with the creation of an agency, APRIFEL designed to fulfil this aim.

Since the late 1960s, French citizens have reduced their consumption of fruit and vegetables. This can be explained by four main causes:

  1. the increase of processed foods, easier to prepare and symbols of modernity, which are increasingly substituting fresh produce ;
  2. the advent of advertisements on televisions in 1969, previously forbidden, which the food industry used as a lever for influencing changes in dietary behaviour ;
  3. the development of the new form of retail with the creation and growth of super and hypermarkets across the country, also contributing to changes in dietary patterns;
  4. and finally the women’s liberation movement and women’s desire for freedom which has changed daily food preparation into an additional chore.

These four main causes have converged to influence increasingly low consumption of fruit and vegetables over the past 40 years.

In 1982, Aprifel began leading awareness campaigns for opinion leaders – most notably journalists- and actions directly targeted to schoolchildren : the message « mangez frais, mangez vrai », which is directly translated as “eat fresh, eat real” ; however these actions have never had sufficient coverage to substantially contribute to reversing the trend of poor fruit and vegetable consumption. A lack of funds limited the necessary scope of action.

Ten years on, in 1992, INTERFEL (Inter-professional Association of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable industry) became actively aware of the power of the media and advertisements, and understood that it is necessary to communicate through advertisement in order to reach consumers and help change their habits.

Thus a television advertisement campaign was launched in 1993, mainly targeting children and their mothers, and aiming to change their perception of fruit and vegetables.

Three years later, with the image of fruit and vegetables having been improved, Interfel reoriented their focus in order to modify ATTITUDES of French citizens vis-à-vis fruit and vegetables. Thus a new advertisement campaign aimed to reduce the perception of consumers regarding the ‘complicated’ aspects of fruit and vegetables such as “length of preparation” and “not practical” via daily prime-time advertisements over a period of three years.

By 1999, the image of fruit and vegetables has developed positively, as had the attitudes of the French population regarding fruit and vegetable consumption. It thus became possible to work on the aspect of BEHAVIOUR. In December 1999 Interfel thus launched the slogan “10 fruit and vegetables a day”. This slogan had two main objectives:

  1. to create a point of reference of optimal consumption for each individual;
  2. to shock by the figure “10”, which could appear excessive, and potentially be the vector of a polemic.

The second objective was rapidly attained, due to the food industry which complained via the media of the exaggerated “10 a day” message. Controversy did indeed set in and the notoriety of the “10 a day” was very rapid. The first objective was also attained but the Ministry of Health found that “10” was too high a target for “poor consumers” because they might consider 10 the minimum recommended intake of fruit and vegetable portions though the minimum was 5, and 10 was meant as an objective of consumption. Thus two years later the slogan was revised in order for it to be in line with that of the Ministry of Health: « from 5 to 10 fruit and vegetables a day».

To create norms for fruit and vegetable consumption in the view of increasing individual consumption is essential to change behaviours. One year ago, a Sofres study suggested that nearly 2/3 of the French population were aware of consumption targets: between 5 and 10 fruit and vegetables a day.

Nevertheless awareness of norms and standards is not sufficient to change behaviours. One must then explain how to change to attain the optimal daily intake.

There is currently an assessment of culinary practices via ethnoanthropological marketing studies which we are conducting at our on-site Fraich’attitude kitchen with the assistance of the anthropologistsociologist Professor Dominique Desjeux.

These observations will allow us to understand how to modify the culinary behaviours of the French population. It is in the development of domestic culinary practices, through the integration of increasing fruit and vegetable use, that we will manage to considerably modify dietary behaviours.

The first results have already allowed us to develop our communication strategy toward the concept of the “half”. It is a visual concept that allows without thinking to visually put into practice a “higher consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables”. It follows these points of reference:

  • first: half of food purchases are fresh fruit and vegetables!
  • then: half the content of the fridge are fresh fruit and vegetables!
  • also: half of what we eat is fresh fruit and vegetables!
  • And finally: half of our plate is composed of fresh fruit and vegetables!

In order for half one’s plate to be composed of fresh fruit and vegetables, one must first purchase half of one’s food as fruit and vegetables and thus be able to eat half one’s diet through fruit and vegetables, with the aide of the visual proportion of “half”. With the help of our dieticians, we have been able to verify the veracity of the concept: half the diet in fruit and vegetables is equivalent to the consumption of an average of 800g of fruit and vegetables a day.

Simple, concrete, comprehensive and easily applicable messages for all consumers, is the new approach to change the dietary habits of the French population.

With the message “half in fruit and vegetables”, whether it be half of what one eats, half of one’s plate, or half of one’s purchases, this converges towards a necessary modification of food shopping behaviours, culinary practices and dietary habits: the entire system needs to be modified, from purchases to consumption, via what is stocked in the fridge!

The strategy of numbers (5aday, 6aday, 5 to 7, 10/day, 5 to 10, 3x3, 9aday…) has allowed the creation of norms and standards for fresh fruit and vegetable consumption in most countries which have launched fruit and vegetable communication campaigns to change dietary behaviours of their respective population. If this sort of slogan has led to an awareness of the need to increase fruit and vegetables, it has nevertheless not been operational in leading to action: the “half in fruit and vegetables” message provides a practical visual tool to make consumption of fruit and vegetables that much easier to do.

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