Libby's is declaring September "National Get Back to the Table Month" and has enlisted country singing star Sara Evans to help promote the theme.
Evans has recorded a version of the Libby's jingle ("When it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the label, label, label..."), which will be featured in spots on country music stations nationwide starting Sept. 1. Fans can already find that version, plus a "bonus" version by Evans, on the campaign's Web site (http://www.GetBacktotheTable.com).
In addition, Libby's is promoting an online contest, Sept. 1 - Dec. 15, asking parents to submit stories and creative tips for getting their families together at dinner time. The winning family will have dinner with Evans backstage after one of her concerts.
Evans was chosen to "continue Libby's tradition of underlining the value of family dinners" because of her commitment to making time for her "blended family of nine," whether touring or at home, said Bruce Wolcott, VP of marketing for Seneca Foods Corp., owners of the Libby's brand since 1983.
Parents and kids who visit the promotion's site will also find the "Top 5 Reasons to Get Back to the Table" (better grades, nutrition, confidence levels, etc. for kids); a database of easy, low-cost recipes featuring Libby's vegetables; and tips on planning meals and saving time and money at the grocery store - some from "Total Mom" author/TV personality Hannah Keeley.
While few would argue that promoting more family time together at dinner is an admirable goal, data from The NPD Group's annual "Eating Patterns in America" study shows no dramatic drop in this activity in recent years. In fact, the numbers are not nearly as discouraging as many might assume.
For the year ending February '08, 39% of households with at least one child (under age 18) reported that the entire family eats dinner together seven nights per week - the same percentage as 10 years ago. During the past decade, the highest percentage recorded was 42%, and the lowest was 38%. Further, the number of families with at least one child who manage to get everyone together for dinner at least five days per week is much higher: 70%. And that number was just two percentage points higher five years ago.
The numbers decline by several percentage points when a teenager is part of the family (32% eat dinner together every night), and increase by several in households that have no children (51% eat dinner together every night).
"With today's responsibilities and hectic activities schedules - for adults, and particularly for kids - it's not surprising that every member of the family isn't at dinner every night in most households," comments Harry Balzer, NPD VP and author of the study. "And the larger the family, and the more kids, the more difficult it is. But this has been true for a long time now. What's more surprising is that most families are managing to pull this off at least five evenings per week."
NPD's data also shows that more than 80% of households report having canned vegetables on hand at home. "Like coffee, canned vegetables are such a staple that consumption is not the real issue," says Balzer. "For a marketer like Libby's, the real goal is to be one or two of the cans that are in the pantry."
For the record, U.S. per-capita consumption of processed vegetables (canned and frozen) increased from 115.2 pounds in 1980 to 130.4 pounds in 1991, but had declined to 117 pounds by 2006 (a year that saw a 10% drop in canned vegetables consumption), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, processed vegetable consumption rose 3% last year, to 119 pounds. Given the sluggish economy, the USDA is projecting "little change" in vegetable consumption patterns, either processed or fresh, this year.