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GOOD-FOR-YOU LICENSING

Fighting Obesity In the Produce Aisle

With an increasing societal focus on health and wellness and a desire to combat childhood obesity, entertainment/character licensors are interested in associating their properties with the produce category, and vice versa.

Some examples within the last year or so:

  • Sesame Workshop, the Produce Marketing Association, and the Partnership for a Healthier America forged a deal allowing the Sesame Street characters to be used, royalty-free, on signage and packaging.
  • Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is starring in Produce for Kids’ third annual Healthy Families, Helping Kids campaign, featured in Publix and Meijer stores this fall.
  • Disney and Pinnacle Foods’ Birds Eye brand teamed in a multiplatform effort to encourage more vegetable-eating, with Disney characters appearing on packaging, among other elements.
  • The Florida Department of Citrus worked with Marvel Custom Solutions to integrate Florida’s Captain Citrus character, along with Marvel’s Avengers Assemble team, into a custom comic, teacher’s guide, and lesson plan distributed to 1 million children in U.S. schools.

These ventures join a handful of ongoing licensing efforts in the produce aisle. Disney, to name one example, has a number of licensees for branded fruits and vegetables, including Chelan Fresh for bagged apples and cherries, Crunch Pak for fresh sliced apples, Dayka & Hackett for grapes, Freska for mangos, Naturipe for blueberry snacks, and SGS for stone fruit and table grapes, all featuring Disney and Marvel characters and brands. Warner Bros. also maintains a presence; a couple of its newer Looney Tunes licensees include Crunchies Foods for freeze-dried fruits and vegetables and Central West Produce for packaged strawberries in the U.S. and Canada.

And the trend is not limited to North America; Viacom International just licensed South African retailer Checkers for SpongeBob SquarePants seasonal fruits, including in kid-sized portions.

Most of the deals mentioned above lean more toward promotion than traditional licensing, although it should be noted that there are a lot of gray areas between the two in this category.

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