Inside eat brighter! with Larry McIntosh, Peak of the Market

Larry McIntosh is President and CEO of Peak of the Market, a grower with roots in Manitoba and Alberta, Canada, and his company is an early adopter – a trailblazer – of the eat brighter! movement. The eat brighter! program grants the fresh produce industry royalty-free access to Sesame Street character images and was forged by the Partnership for a Healthier America, which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to make healthy choices easier for busy parents and families. 

Peak of the Market has already launched a line of potatoes and onions adorned with Big Bird, Abby Cadabby and the fun, kid-friendly elements of the Sesame Street brand and can be found in supermarkets and other retail locations across Canada. 

I spoke with Larry about his involvement with eat brighter! - why he got involved, what kind of impact he anticipates, and exactly what he plans on doing with the furry faces kids (and their moms) have grown to love.

What about the eat brighter! program appealed to you? Why did Peak of the Market get involved?

LM: The ‘eat brighter!’ program is a perfect fit for our company and, quite frankly, our industry.  We want to be associated with a movement that is about health, children and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.  We take great pride in the quality of our vegetables and the Peak of the Market brand name that stands behind everything we do. 

The marketing campaign is different than anything else our industry has ever seen.  By being able to use the very recognized and trusted Sesame Street characters on packaging and point of purchase materials, it raises the profile of the produce industry.  

You say it’s different from anything the industry has seen; can you tell me more about that?

The eat brighter! program is a game changer for our industry -- fruits and vegetables have been competing for the attention of children, and frankly adults, with junk food for decades.  Unfortunately, our industry cannot compete with these companies when it comes to their advertising budgets or high profile sponsorship. 

However, if the produce industry gets behind eat brighter! and the Sesame Street characters, we can compete with a unified image, brand and voice.  Just imagine if every package of produce had eat brighter! on it.  

What was your process in deciding exactly how to apply the Sesame Street character images to your go-to-market strategy?

LM: When the eat brighter! program became available in Canada, we made it a top priority to redesign all of our potato and onion packaging.  Programs like this rarely are available, especially royalty-free.  We could not let this opportunity sit for months as it was just too good to let sit until our current packaging ran out.  

We signed up for the program, sent in the required paperwork to PMA, and we were approved the next day.  We started designing immediately and submitted the designs to the program’s design firm, Paragon.  Paragon was great to work with and offered helpful advice, suggestions and approvals very quickly.  From the time we signed the agreement to the day the packaging arrived in the stores was just 10 weeks.  This was the quickest launch of new packaging we had ever done. 

The positive and enthusiastic comments from our customers and consumers made the effort well worthwhile.  

What do you think will help the eat brighter! program make an impact?

The key to getting the eat brighter! message across Canada and the United States is the industry getting behind it.  Produce suppliers are all competitors in many ways but with this one program, we all benefit by working together as one.  If Canadians and Americans are eating more fruits and vegetables - this is good for our citizens’ health and for the health of our industry.

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