SOURCE: Del Monte Foods

February 21, 2006 08:00 ET

When It Comes to Eating Fruits and Vegetables... Americans Confess They Just Don't Get It

New Survey Reveals the State of the Nation's Plate

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 21, 2006 -- Get fruits. Get vegetables. Get healthy! But unfortunately most Americans just don't "get it" when it comes to eating right. Del Monte Foods (NYSE: DLM) today announced the results of how people assess themselves and the "state of their plate" -- and while some gave themselves a passing grade, the bad news is that most Americans admit they aren't getting their recommended 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily and don't have a clue when it comes to understanding the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Revealing the good, the bad and the unhealthy, the Del Monte Daily™: State of the Nation's Plate survey found that a startling 10 percent of Americans are eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Only 41 percent of the population is aware of the new Dietary Guidelines -- residents of Los Angeles (47 percent) had the greatest awareness, compared to Atlanta (32 percent) who had the least awareness. In addition, more than half of Americans (58 percent) are stocking canned fruits in their pantries, while two-thirds are stocking canned vegetables. Rice/pasta is the most frequently stocked item (79 percent).

"Many Americans want to get serious about eating right -- but for some, they don't know where to turn," said Apu Mody, Managing Director, Del Monte Brands. "At Del Monte we are committed to providing realistic ways for families to incorporate healthy eating into their daily lives by offering a broad selection of conveniently packaged, nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and tomatoes. We also created Del Monte Daily, a consumer outreach program that supports the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to encourage everyone in the family to eat approximately 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, equaling approximately half a plate of fruits and vegetables at every meal."

Making the Grade for Good Health

The Del Monte Daily: State of the Nation's Plate survey did additional research in 10 major cities to see how people thought they scored when it came to healthy eating. Highlights included:

--  West Coast Makes the Grade: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle can
    hold their heads high and give themselves "A" grades for healthy eating.
    The Mile-High city is proud as Denver received an "A" grade as well.  The
    survey revealed that residents of Los Angeles say they eat the most fruits
    and vegetables with 4.13 servings a day, followed closely by the San
    Francisco Bay Area (4.12 servings).  (A serving equals one-half cup.)
--  Serious Room for Improvement: The self-evaluation revealed that
    Pittsburgh, Charlotte and Dallas/Fort Worth have lower self esteem when it
    comes to healthy eating and gave themselves an underwhelming "D" grade.
    Dallas/Fort Worth residents say they eat only 3.40 servings of fruits and
    vegetables a day -- placing them second to last ahead of Pittsburgh.
    Pittsburgh residents admit they eat only 3.12 servings of fruits and
    vegetables a day -- placing them last among all cities surveyed.
--  Not too Shabby in The Big Apple:  New York City is eating their share
    of apples, as well as other fruits and vegetables, and received a "B"
    rating.  Sixty percent of residents in New York City say they are healthy
    eaters placing them third overall, but only 26 percent say those who live
    in their city are healthy.
--  Average at Best:  The cities of Chicago and Atlanta came in with
    average, at best, grades with "C"s.  In the Windy City, only 13 percent say
    other Chicago residents are healthy.
Del Monte Daily: State of the Nation's Plate Healthy Eating Grades
1. Los Angeles                  A       6. Chicago                      C
2. San Francisco/Bay Area       A       7. Atlanta                      C
3. Denver                       A       8. Pittsburgh                   D
4. Seattle                      A       9. Charlotte                    D
5. New York City                B      10. Dallas/Fort Worth            D
"Sorry Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago and Atlanta... you have some homework to do when it comes to healthful eating. And those in cities who received an 'A' or 'B' grade -- don't think that you are off the hook either, there is always room for improvement," said Laura Molseed, Registered Dietitian for Del Monte. "Regardless of the results, healthy eating needs to be a daily routine. At Del Monte we're encouraging people to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal -- this is one simple and delicious way to start improving those grades and to begin to enjoy the benefits of a balanced diet."

Studies show that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases in the future and play a role in weight management. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that Americans consume approximately 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables each day, which equals approximately a half plate of fruits and vegetables at each meal. However, recent studies, in addition to the State of the Nation's Plate research, continue to reveal a critical gap in consumption of essential nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, including Vitamins A and C, Potassium, Magnesium and Fiber.

Power-Up Your Pantry

"Meeting the recommended guidelines, especially eating 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, is not as difficult as most people think," Molseed said.

"For starters, stock up on a variety of canned fruits, vegetables and tomato products -- having these ingredients on-hand takes the stress out of creating a wholesome and delicious meal, which means less time in the kitchen and more time with your family."

Try these "Must Have Pantry Staples":

--  Del Monte® Garden Select® tomatoes, the first jarred product of
    its kind, offer taste and texture more like fresh tomatoes straight from
    the garden.  New Del Monte Garden Select tomatoes start with vine-ripened
    tomatoes that are carefully cut, perfectly seasoned and jarred within hours
    after harvest.  Super on salads, bruschetta, tacos and more, this new
    product, which comes in a 14.5-ounce glass jar, is rich in the nutrients
    Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Folate.  Beta-carotene and
    Lycopene also are abundant in tomatoes.
--  Del Monte® Orchard Select® Premium Mixed Fruit, a blend of hand-
    selected premium peaches, pears, pineapples and cherries that are peeled,
    sectioned and ready to eat.  Families can get 100 percent of Vitamin C with
    this delicious combination of sun-ripened fruits, available in the produce
    section of your grocery store.
--  Del Monte® vegetable products -- Eat your greens and yellows... from
    corn and carrots to spinach and green beans... there is nothing ordinary
    about canned vegetables.  Packed with Vitamins, Fiber and Minerals, canned
    veggies are picked and packed at the height of nutrition and flavor... and
    are an easy, affordable and delicious way to "eat your vegetables" -- just
    like mom said.
Del Monte offers a broad selection of conveniently packaged, nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and tomatoes under the Del Monte®, Fruit Naturals®, Orchard Select®, Sunfresh®, S&W® and Contadina® brands providing families with many realistic ways to incorporate healthy eating into their daily lives and offering the ultimate in convenience, nutrition and year-round availability. Many of Del Monte's fruit products are a good source of these important essential nutrients, including Vitamins A and C, while many of Del Monte's vegetable and tomato products provide a convenient source of Fiber, Vitamin C and Potassium. And don't forget to stock up on a variety of StarKist® tuna products -- tuna is an excellent, low-fat source of protein and a natural source of the B Vitamins, Niacin and B-12, as well as Selenium and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.

Consumers Look to Food Companies for a Helping Hand

Finally, the survey found that Americans look to food companies to help them eat better. When asked which companies they most associated with healthy foods, survey respondents ranked Del Monte and General Mills among the top two companies. Eight in 10 said they would like to see food companies play a more active role in showing consumers how to lead healthy lifestyles, and 79 percent said they want companies to offer healthful recipes or health tips on product labels.

"Del Monte is committed to nourishing families and enriching lives everyday by providing can-do ways for people to consume nutritious and delicious fruits, vegetables and tomato products on a regular basis," said Apu Mody. "We, as a nation, have a lot to gain from eating better, exercising and embracing a healthier lifestyle. Regardless of your city's letter grade, there is always room for improvement and we challenge Americans to get fruits, get vegetables and get going to a healthier, happier you."

Survey Methodology

The Del Monte Daily™: State of the Nation's Plate survey was conducted by Braun Research Inc. on behalf of Del Monte Foods. The nationwide online survey was conducted among 1,000 American adults in mid-December 2005. Healthy eating marks were assigned to 10 major cities based on the perception of respondents and their city's healthy eating behaviors; an understanding of the new Dietary Guidelines; and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Grades were determined by an index that was created for each of these market evaluation factors based on a national average of 100.

About Del Monte Daily

In response to consumers' needs, Del Monte -- a company with a long tradition of providing healthy and good-for-you products -- has launched Del Monte Daily, an initiative that enables families to lead healthier lifestyles by eating more fruits and vegetables and reconnecting with each other during a wholesome meal. Del Monte Daily is an integrated marketing initiative that supports the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a way to maintain a healthful lifestyle. Specifically, it encourages everyone in the family to eat approximately 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, equaling approximately half a plate of fruits and vegetables at every meal. For recipe ideas, healthful and helpful eating tips and much more, visit

About Del Monte Foods

Del Monte Foods is one of the country's largest and most well known producers, distributors and marketers of premium quality, branded and private label food and pet products for the U.S. retail market, generating over $3 billion in net sales in fiscal 2005. With a powerful portfolio of brands including Del Monte®, Contadina®, StarKist®, S&W®, Nature's Goodness™, College Inn®, 9Lives®, Kibbles 'n Bits®, Pup-Peroni®, Snausages®, Pounce® and Meaty Bone®, Del Monte products are found in nine out of ten American households. For more information on Del Monte Foods Company (NYSE: DLM), visit the Company's website at

EDITOR'S NOTE: For additional details on the Del Monte Daily: State of the Nation's Plate survey and/or to schedule an interview with Laura Molseed, R.D., please contact Michelle Faist at 412/222-8123 or

Contact Information

    Michelle Faist
    Del Monte Foods

    Abbie Pauley