Increasing Canned Fruit & Veggie Intake with Innovation and Education
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
If you’ve taken a walk down the canned fruit or vegetable aisle lately you may have noticed a decreased number of facings. The frequency of canned food consumption overall in the US has been on a steady decline over the last several years. The misconceptions about the nutritional quality of canned foods, and their decreasing usage rate may actually be contributing factors to the nutritional inadequacy of the American diet.
Research published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (June 2016) provides insight into the role of canned fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. The study analyzed data from NHANES during 2001-2010. According to the research, those adults and children who ate canned fruits and vegetables had greater overall fruit and vegetable consumption, better diet quality and increased nutrient intake compared to those who did not eat them. In addition, recent studies have shown that canned fruit and vegetables contain comparable nutrient profiles to fresh and should be considered as healthy options alongside fresh.
Supermarket dietitians guide shoppers to better-for-you products in the aisles and can help ensure that canned fruits and vegetables are part of the mix. When talking about canned fruits and vegetables remember to:
- Highlight the nutritional attributes – comparable to fresh
- Communicate the environmental benefits - less waste; recyclable package
- Showcase budget friendly recipe options - with canned beans, vegetables, tomatoes, fruits
- Above all show how they help put an easy, nourishing family meal on the table!
The canning industry is also working to make canned fruits and vegetables more appealing to shoppers. New innovations recently discussed at the Pacific Coast Producers California Orchard and Field Tour for health influencers included:
- Testing a new clear plastic fruit “can” to show off the contents.
- Using red or green cans with embossed designs to call attention to canned tomatoes on the supermarket shelf.
- New salad ready canned tomatoes that offer a flavorful option when fresh tomatoes are not available.
- Experimenting with new juice blends to add superior flavor to canned fruits packed in 100% juice.
Whether these innovations will lead to higher canned fruit and vegetable purchases will remain to be seen, but together with the educational efforts from retail RDs we stand a fighting chance to keep these nourishing products in the shopping cart and on the table.