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Eating healthy has been a tough sell

ORLANDO

Dietitians, doctors, moms and Michelle Obama are all prodding Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. How's it going?

"Unfortunately, consumption has been flat since 2004," said Elizabeth Pivonka, chief executive of the Produce for Better Health Foundation. "Most surprising is that consumption among seniors has actually declined 8 percent since then."

Her research, outlined at a Food Marketing Institute conference here Monday, found multiple explanations. Cost-conscious consumers digging out of recession. Folks who buy only what they know their family will eat. And an unwillingness to find new ways to make fruits and vegetables taste better.

Indeed, many decisionmakers in households living on less than $50,000 a year do not associate fruits and vegetables with health and wellness. That remains a big reason the average American still eats 1.8 cups of them a day, not the 5 the government has recommended for 30 years. Plus, many seniors make no-muss, no-fuss meals.

It's not all bad. Consumption is up modestly among moms with kids and kids 2 through 12.

Food marketers are countering with health and wellness websites, new higher-profit fresh choices, recipes, cooking classes and a few staff stores with a nutritionist advising how to spice up old side dishes for health.

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Done deals. Rainbow Kids, an apparel chain of 1,100 stores, has signed a landmark deal to open in Central Plaza, a St. Petersburg shopping center that once struggled to be a viable inner city retail hub. Ram Realty Services, which owns and manages the center, says the deal makes Central Plaza 100 percent leased. … After 16 years on N Florida Avenue, Bucs and Bulls Heaven, a Tampa sports fanwear shop, has moved to a more compact and visible location a half-mile east of I-275 at 1418 E Busch Blvd. It's owned by Jeffrey Neil Fox, a sports web publisher who sold the Pewter Report in 2006 and recently launched a Gear for the Game newsletter. … Tampa-born Splitsville, the luxury bowling, dancing and dining night spot, will open its fifth location this fall at Walt Disney World. It's a high traffic spot in the vacant Virgin Megastore at Downtown Disney. With 30 lanes and 750 seats, it will be twice the size of the original Splitsville in Channelside. Disney says the deal does not end its five-year effort to build a 100-lane megaplex at ESPN Wide World of Sports to house major bowling tournaments.

Life after Blockbuster. The Hollywood studios scrambling to find a place in the post-DVD rental world have launched two new ventures. Five studios — excluding Disney — launched a DVD-copying venture with VUDU, Walmart's competitive response to streaming video from Netflix.

Here's how it works. First, register to create a VUDU account. Then take your most prized DVDs to a photo center in any of 3,500 Walmarts, where they will be digitized and stored in the cloud. Why pay $2 apiece to copy DVDs you already bought? So you can download them as streaming video to any one of 300 types of smart phones or wireless Internet gadgets. You get your discs back if you want them.

Meantime, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment kicked off a one-year deal with Taubman Centers Inc. to sell movies from kiosks in 18 Taubman malls including International Plaza in Tampa.

After watching trailers on a big screen TV, click a cell phone at a displayed QR code to buy the Blue Ray or DVD version which is mailed to your home. First, you have to download a Fox Movie Mall app from iTunes. And you must buy a movie while mall shopping from a skimpy selection that currently includes Larry the Cable Guy's Tooth Fairy 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and We Bought a Zoo.

Happy Anniversary. International Plaza is getting a mini-facelift from lease renewals after its first 10 years in business.

This year, five retailers are remodeling to mirror their chain's latest look. They are: Bath & Body Works, Helzberg, Montblanc, Victoria's Secret and Champs. Express and Forever 21's flagship XXI store are being remodeled and expanded.

Staff writer Mark Albright can be reached at albright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8252.

Eating healthy has been a tough sell 03/19/12 [Last modified: Monday, March 19, 2012 9:09pm]

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