Live from the Licensing Show: Del Monte Inks Deal with Sesame Workshop

By Jun 22, 2006

Del Monte Foods is giving kids three new reasons to eat their vegetables via a new partnership with Sesame Workshop.

The company is has inked a deal with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational arm behind Sesame Street, to launch a new line of Del Monte canned vegetables featuring Grover, Elmo and Cookie Monster. Under the deal, Sesame Street characters will appear on cans of green beans, peas and corn, along with on-pack coloring activities developed by Sesame Workshop. The partnership is designed to promote healthy eating habits among kids.

“If anyone can encourage children to eat their fruits and vegetables, it’s Elmo, along with his friends Cookie Monster and Grover,” Apu Mody, managing director, Del Monte Foods, said yesterday during a press conference at the 2006 Licensing Show. “It’s a great way to encourage kids and families to adopt healthy eating habits.”

Del Monte vegetables featuring the Sesame Street characters will retail shelves in September in four-pack varieties and eight- and 12-packs in select club outlets. Product packaging will include Elmo with green beans, Grover with sweet peas and Cookie Monster with corn. Between 10 million to 20 million packages of Sesame Street-branded Del Monte canned vegetables will roll out during the launch, Mody said in a separate interview.

Del Monte announced the deal with Sesame Street favorite Grover, who appeared with Mody wearing a headband and workout shirt. The partnership is part of Sesame Workshop’s latest Healthy Habits for Life, a yearlong initiative with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PBS Kids, The Parenting Group, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Ad Council and the YMCA of America.

“We are thrilled to team up with Del Monte Foods, a company with a long history of providing quality foods to families in the U.S., to offer vegetables featuring the Sesame Street characters,” said Maura Regan, VP and general manager of global licensing, Sesame Workshop in a statement.

Recent studies show that less than 15% of elementary-age children eat the recommended servings (five or more servings) of fruits and vegetables each day, Mody said. Del Monte wanted to find a creative way to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables. To do that, the company is leveraging the popularity of Sesame Workshop characters to get its message of healthy eating and nurturing lives across, he said.

“These are such powerful characters,” Mody said of Sesame Street. “These are characters everyone grew up with, that parents trust and kids adore. Anything with a character draws attention and interest [from kids]. This is an effective way to still draw kids’…and is something moms and dads will feel fantastic serving.”

Mody said he expects the partnership will flourish between Del Monte and Sesame Workshop after the product launch. “I only see it growing with other products,” he said.

Sunkist signed a licensing deal with Sesame Workshop last fall to promote citrus as a health snack (Xtra, Nov. 9, 2005). In a follow up effort, Sunkist has launched a summer retail promotion that plays up the healthfulness of its strawberries and blueberries with help from the Muppets (PROMO June 2006).