Eat Them To Defeat Them veg campaign aimed at kids will return in February

Veg Power’s 5-year report confirms: 53% of parents say kids in ‘Eat Them’ campaign are eating more veg

Dan Parker

The European fresh produce industry is witnessing a significant shift in companies adopting specific roles to sustain their success. With increasing competition and growing supply chain transparency, companies are faced with a crucial decision: should they become specialists, focusing on a few products that can be consistently supplied year-round to large-scale retailers, or should they embrace a more generalist approach, diversifying their offerings to cater to various — often ad hoc — customers in different segments such as foodservice, wholesalers or processors?

Veg Power and ITV have released five-year evaluation data from the “Eat Them To Defeat Them” campaign, which confirms that repeated involvement in the campaign leads to increased long-term vegetable consumption. Fifty-three percent of parents with children involved in the schools’ program reported a long-term benefit in not only the volume of vegetables consumed, but also the variety.

With 29% of children eating less than one portion of vegetables per day, these results are an important step in improving children’s diets and the health of the United Kingdom. In addition, the findings suggest more children should benefit from exposure to the campaign, as a poor childhood diet not only disadvantages them as children but as adults, resulting in ever-increasing healthcare costs and lower productivity.

The “Eat Them To Defeat Them” campaign inspires children to eat more vegetables by combining the power of advertising with a school program. It brings together a huge alliance, including TV advertising, celebrities, supermarkets, chefs, schools, communities and families. Since it launched in 2019, the campaign has directly generated an additional £132m ($164 million) in vegetables sales, equivalent to 1.4 billion children’s vegetable portions.

This year’s campaign was supported by £3.5m ($4.37 million) of advertising led by ITV, Channel 4 and Sky Media, reaching 57% of families with children. Evaluation data confirmed that 45% of children and 31% of parents who saw the advertising ate more vegetables. Applying these figures to the population of UK children, this equates to 1.36 million children eating more vegetables as a direct result.

The schools program had another successful year, with more than 1.5 million different children from 4,884 primary and special schools benefiting over the last five years.

2023 evaluation highlights included:

  • Increasing vegetable consumption — 77% of parents who were aware of the program in their child’s school reported their child ate more vegetables as a direct result of the campaign.
  • Reaching the most “vegetable resistant” children — 66% of parents who were aware of the program in their child’s school and whose children vocally dislike vegetables, said their child ate more vegetables because of the school’s program.
  • Repeating the campaign — the majority of parents (89%) and children (85%) would like the campaign to return next year.

Every year, our evaluation has shown that “Eat Them To Defeat Them” is effective at increasing children’s vegetable consumption, but this five-year evaluation confirms the effect on behavior goes beyond that of the campaign and is long-lasting. By increasing vegetable consumption in children over the long-term, it will have a huge impact on the quality of their diet and indicates the importance of exposing as many children as possible to it.

On a more personal note, I am still blown away by the passion, brilliance and dedication of so many for this campaign. The diverse alliance of hundreds of organizations and thousands of schools that is Eat Them to Defeat Them is quite extraordinary.

“Eat Them To Defeat Them is proof that it’s possible to make long-lasting change through communication — not just how children think about vegetables, but also what they choose to eat. It is hugely rewarding to see ITV and Veg Power’s five-year long partnership having such an impact,” says Susie Braun, director of Social Purpose at ITV.

Dan Parker is chief executive of Veg Power. He has worked in marketing and advertising for 25 years for many of the world’s largest food brands. As chief executive of Veg Power, he now uses that experience to encourage kids to eat more vegetables.

Veg Power is a nonprofit community interest company founded by the Food Foundation to turn around vegetable consumption in the United Kingdom. It uses advertising and communications to inspire children to eat vegetables and create life-long good food habits that they will, in turn, share with their children. Veg Power’s latest campaign “Simply Veg,” developed in response to the cost-of-living crisis and decreasing vegetable sales, offers simple, easy ideas from a panel of experts to help reduce the impact on families’ budgets, encourage vegetable acceptance by children and decrease the amount of food waste.

ITV’s Social Purpose is about using the power of ITV to shape culture for good, through using creativity and scale to inspire positive change in the world, and to nurture a responsible and inclusive working environment. ITV’s social purpose encompasses four priorities — better health, diversity and inclusion, climate action and giving back, all with their own measurable goals.



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