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Walmart joins "Half Your Plate" campaign

CPMA initiative asks consumers to fill half their plate with fruit and vegetables

Walmart Canada customers will soon be asked to load up on fruits and vegetables.

That’s after the discount chain became the first major national retailer in the country to sign up for the "Half Your Plate" campaign.

"Half Your Plate" is a healthy eating program that encourages consumers to make sure that 50% of their plate is filled with fruit and vegetables.

Walmart plans to promote "Half Your Plate" inside stores and in flyers, according to Sam Silvestro, senior director of fresh foods at Walmart.

provides an easy message for consumers to understand and keep in mind when doing their grocery shopping,” Silvestro said in a release.

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association launched "Half Your Plate" this year with a website and social media components on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Now, the campaign is moving into stores and onto produce packaging, said CPMA’s manager of communications, Vanessa Sherry.

Besides Walmart, other grocery retailers involved in "Half Your Plate" include Federated Co-operatives in Western Canada and Colemans and Powell’s Supermarket in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Our messaging is that at every meal, make half your plate fruit and vegetables,” CPMA president Ron Lemaire said. “By the end of the day, you’ll have your recommended number of servings.”

Lemaire added that grocery shoppers should load half their shopping cart with fruit and vegetables.

“Having retailers promote the campaign re-emphasizes the importance of making healthier choices at the store,” he said.

Indeed, having shoppers fill half their cart with produce isn’t only good for people’s health. It can also boost retailers' top line.

In his new book, Slim by Design (excerpted in the October issue of Canadian Grocer, out now), Cornell University professor Brian Wansink ran a test at grocery stores in Toronto and Williamsburg, Va., in which yellow duct tape divided shopping carts in two. A sign asked shoppers to fill up the front half with produce.

The result: shoppers with the divided carts spent twice as much money on fruit and vegetables and 25% more in the store overall.

Though Canadians seem to be paying more attention to what they eat, the average person in this country still has only 3.5 to 4.5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. That’s well below the seven to 10 servings recommended by Canada’s Food Guide.

One problem may be that serving sizes are confusing. But a message to fill half of each plate with produce is far easier to understand.

A broader "Half Your Plate" campaign aimed at consumers is currently in the works and planned for the new year, according to CPMA.

"Half Your Plate" was developed by Ottawa-based CPMA, along with the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Public Health Association.

The idea is similar to a U.S. initiative called "My Plate," launched in 2007.

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