This Associated Press feature from today explains that “with sales slipping in the category, frozen food makers are in the final stages of preparing a major public relations campaign to defend the nutritional reputation of their products. Kraig Naasz, president of the American Frozen Food Institute, confirmed that the industry trade group plans to launch the “multiyear, multimillion dollar” campaign in early May.”
Alas, part of that multimillion dollar campaign includes dietitians.
“The group, based in McLean, Va., represents companies including Nestle USA, which makes Hot Pockets, Lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s, and ConAgra, which makes Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s.
In addition to the industry campaign, companies are working behind the scenes to communicate the benefits of frozen foods to dietitians. The hope is that such health professionals will then pass on the message to their clients.
Nestle USA, for instance, later this month plans to present research it commissioned at the Experimental Biology conference that compares the nutrition of frozen foods to fast-food meals.
The company also recently introduced a “Balance Your Plate on a Budget” meal plan featuring products such as Lean Pockets and Tombstone pizza for people on fixed incomes. The plan will be distributed to dietitians at conferences and online.”
This comes back to the absurd notion that food companies need to educate dietitians. Does a dietitian truly need the folks behind Tombstone Pizza to learn about the nutrition makeup of frozen foods?
Here is, perhaps, the most cringe-worthy quote in that whole article:
“We spent months educating each of these dietitians,” [Jenn] Freeman, [vice president and general manger for Healthy Choice Meals] said.”
Months? Seriously? And let’s remember that “education” in these situations is code for “PR talking points.”