7 Nov 2011

Healthy eating initiative turns 20

7:27 am on 7 November 2011

The group behind the five-plus-a-day initiative says its healthy eating message is now more important than ever.

United Fresh New Zealand, a group of fruit and vegetable growers, wholesalers and the two main supermarket chains - Progressive and Foodstuffs - last week celebrated 20 years of service to the fresh produce industry.

The president for the past decade Ron Becroft says the group encourages healthy eating through the promotion of about 60 fresh fruits and vegetables.

He says it has developed a good relationship with the Ministry of Health and a highlight is the Fruit in Schools programme, in which 100,000 pieces of fruit and vegetables are delivered to decile one and two schools every day.

However, Mr Becroft says the group is looking to refresh the healthy eating message and obesity has become a major issue which needs to be addressed, particularly for children.

He says children are increasingly spending time on computers and play stations.

But Mr Becroft says the group can't preach to children and needs to be smarter than that by making healthy foods seem exciting, interesting and adventurous.

Ron Becroft says his successor, David Smith, who took over the role last month, will look to invite more groups into United Fresh.