Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash will roll into retail stores in April and foodservice establishments next summer in Procter & Gamble Co.'s first concurrent launch of a brand for both consumer and professional use. The product has been in test market for more than five years. The commercial launch of Professional Fit Antibacterial Produce Cleaner is expected to include a heavy push for restaurant and other foodservice operators to advertise their use of the produce wash, which P&G says removes up to 93% of wax and 95% of "handling residues'' and is 98% more effective than water at removing pesticides. A mid-tier family restaurant in Fit's Cedar Rapids, Iowa, test market saw a 15% to 20% increase in sales when it promoted its use of Fit, a P&G spokesman said. In the initial stages of its test market rollout, Fit faced opposition from retail produce managers, who saw the product as questioning the safety of produce. "The produce industry, restaurant operators and regulatory agencies do an incredible job of providing American consumers with fresh, safe and varied produce all year long,'' said Fit brand manager Apu Mody. But he said P&G research found nine of 10 consumers wash produce at home and 61% feel their produce is never as clean as they want. In test markets, that also included Denver, Charlotte, N.C., and Midland, Texas, TV and print ads for Fit from Grey Advertising, New York, featured the tagline "Don't just wash your produce: Clean it'' and showed Fit outperforming water in removing dirt and other residues. Ad plans for the national launch were not disclosed.
Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.