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   Op Ed | VegSource Interactive, Inc.
"Health" Websites Trade Integrity for Meat and Dairy Industry Money

 IVillage.com was one of the first to use the strategy on the 'net.

It starts with a question like this: "We want to provide health info for web surfers; and we want to make a lot of money, too. How can we do both?"

Answer? Let the meat and dairy industry put millions in your pocket so that they can provide that "health information" for you -- information that just happens to recommend "health conscious consumers" eat plenty of milk and meat.

So when you go to IVillage.com, you'll get "health info" brought to you by the dairy industry -- which paid some $10 million to IVillage for the privilege of "educating" IVillage guests to the "crucial role" milk plays in good health...

The latest "health" site to grab the cash is called FoodFit.com -- a site started by a former government nutrition bureaucrat.

Here's the press release put out today:

ConAgra Foods Acquires Strategic Stake in FoodFit.com

Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods Inc. has acquired a strategic stake in FoodFit.com, a leading health and nutrition Web site, to strengthen its relationship with health-minded consumers.

FoodFit.com was founded by Ellen Haas, former Undersecretary of Agriculture for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. FoodFit.com, with its team of nutrition, food and health experts, provides interactive, customized content on healthy eating and fitness to the nation's food and health industries, as well as health-minded consumers, according to a news release.


 



"Our partnership with ConAgra Foods gives both our companies a marketing edge with the growing number of consumers who are interested in healthy eating," said Haas, FoodFit.com president and CEO. "Through our unique business model, FoodFit provides a trusted source of credible information that the food industry can use to bring millions of consumers the health and nutrition information and services they want and need."

"The ConAgra Foods-FoodFit alliance helps maximize our connections with our expanding audience of healthy eaters,” said Bruce Rohde, ConAgra Foods chairman and CEO. “We'll use the interactivity of the Internet in order to better understand and serve consumer wants and needs. Consumers will also be able to easily access a great source that can help them better understand the good, healthy and tasty opportunities available to them through ConAgra Foods' vast array of great tasting and good-for-you foods."

Haas said that the healthy-food market is the fastest-growing sector of the food industry worldwide. More than half of grocery shoppers surveyed in 1999 sought health and nutrition information.

As one of ConAgra Foods' most prominent brands, Healthy Choice provides a communication medium through its packaging and its own Web site at HealthyChoice.com, and has it's main site at ConAgra.com..

Haas, a 20-year veteran consumer advocate and former under secretary of Agriculture for Food, Nutrition and Consumer services (1993 to 97) founded FoodFit.com in 1999. She is a distinguished author of food and nutrition books such as "Great Adventures in Food" (1999); "Food, Family & Fun: A Seasonal Guide to Healthy Eating" (1996); and the associate editor of the soon-to-be published "Encyclopedia on Food."

This capital expansion will help FoodFit continue its product development, licensing and co-branded marketing initiatives, according to a news release.

Consumer brands for ConAgra Foods Inc., a $27-billion food processor, include: Healthy Choice, Banquet, Armour, Louis Kemp, Libby's, Country Pride, Kid Cuisine, Marie Callender's, Cook's, Swift Premium, Butterball, Slim Jim, Chef Boyardee, and Hebrew National.


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