The highly successful Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign recently launched for a fifth consecutive year and with newfound purpose. The large team led by Veg Power, ITV and others are attempting to reverse a trend that saw vegetable sales drop 9% in the UK from 2021 to 2022.
The staggering decline, fueled by what consumers at YouGov say is the result of rising energy prices and inflation, has shifted messaging a bit. While still focusing heavily on children and improving their consumption, VegPower and ITV are letting families to know that purchasing vegetables can be both healthy and cost-effective. Smart strategies, they say, can help that veg from ending up in the bin.
“Parents tell us they are more concerned than ever about their finances and so rejected vegetables really worry them – they simply cannot afford to risk them going to waste,” Dan Parker, Chief Executive, Veg Power said. “Each year Eat Them to Defeat Them turns millions of children into champions for vegetables, pestering their parents to serve them. This enthusiasm is particularly important this year as it will give parents the confidence to keep vegetables in their shopping baskets.”
More than 50% of children taking part in Eat Them to Defeat Them are eating more vegetables, a good sign that runs counter to the polling from YouGov. All told, VegPower and ITV have helped supermarket convenience stores sell an additional £132m in vegetables, or more than 1 billion servings for kids.
However, that still leaves a great portion of students and youths still not getting enough or any healthy produce daily. Lower-income households have struggled to keep pace, both in terms of purchasing and consumption of fresh vegetables, according to YouGov. Those numbers – and the lack of enthusiasm generally for veg – has left 80% of children across the UK from getting enough in their diet. One third consume less than a portion each day. The campaign this year is squarely aimed at that group and showing parents that healthy eating can be affordable.
“Vegetable sales are declining and children still aren’t eating enough of their greens,” Brett Aumuller, Managing Director, Sky Media said. “We’re working alongside Veg Power to encourage children to eat healthier through the power of broadcast advertising.”
The campaign kicked off last week and will begin to ramp up through 8th April. In addition to the many media sponsors and celebrities attached ot the campaign, major supermarket and food brands Aldi, Co-op, Dole, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose are all invested in it.
VegPower says the schools’ programme this year focuses on children “taking over the world,” thanks to 10 meal adventures that include the vegetables they will need to eat to beat the characters who play them. Catering teams again will be assisting the effort with displays and stickers, while teaching will be supporting with healthy-food-driven curriculums and lessons.
“Eat Them to Defeat Them has been proven again and again to get children not just eating vegetables but getting excited about them too,” Susie Braun, Director of Social Purpose at ITV, said. “And that’s never been more important.”