Crunch Pak's Tony Freytag Discusses Food as Medicine Summit and Industry Momentum

Crunch Pak's Tony Freytag Discusses Food as Medicine Summit and Industry Momentum

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CHICAGO, IL - I am fascinated by the critical role food plays in human culture, from the various unique techniques employed around the world to grow, harvest, and cook food to the endless benefits we seek from it. This curiosity has also led me to explore the ways in which produce can become an even more important part of modern culture, as our species makes a return to harnessing fruits and vegetables for their health benefits and ability to prevent or cure a variety of illnesses or diseases.

A recent conversation with Crunch Pak’s Executive Vice President, Tony Freytag, opened my eyes to immense opportunity in the industry following the 2024 Food as Medicine Summit held in Chicago, Illinois, this past May.

Tony Freytag, Executive Vice President, Crunch Pak

“There are a lot of new developments on how to connect people to what’s available out there in terms of fruits and vegetables,” Tony shares as we recap the recent event. “Whether it be diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, all of these things can be either reduced or eliminated completely based on what we eat. The produce family is exploring how we can make the next generation better. How do we teach them to eat better, and how do we incentivize them to explore healthy alternatives to what they already eat?”

The Food as Medicine Summit brings stakeholders from the food and beverage and healthcare industries together to discuss key challenges they can overcome. This year’s discussions focused on how Food as Medicine can be scaled through partnerships, programs, and other new approaches.

Food as Medicine poses a unique opportunity to shift consumer eating habits in favor of fresh produce

Attendees included supply-side players like Crunch Pak, as well as distinguished retail names like Ahold Delhaize, Whole Foods Market, Amazon, and Giant Food. Other key organizations in attendance included NielsenIQ, the American Diabetes Association, and health insurance providers like Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

With studies showing that the adoption of a primarily plant-based diet can prevent chronic disease, treat health conditions, and even reverse chronic illness, Food as Medicine explores how our industry can collaborate with healthcare providers to increase produce consumption through the lens of health and nutrition.

This year’s Food as Medicine summit explored how the movement can be scaled through partnerships, programs, and other new approaches

Produce prescriptions and retail dietitian programs are a few ways both healthcare providers and retailers can contribute to this momentum for fresh produce, directing more consumers to the produce department with prescriptions that offer discounts on certain produce items or dietary recommendations focused on certain health problems.

“We all know the perimeter of the grocery store is extremely important for retailers,” Tony continues. “In areas where food insecurity is prominent, fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive. Anything retailers can do to partner with insurance companies, or even create incentives through their own dietitians, is another way to get produce into the hands of more people.”

ANUK will continue to explore the Food as Medicine concept’s industry impact, so be on the lookout for our next exclusive.

Companies in this Story

Crunch Pak

Founded in 2000, Crunch Pak is committed to providing the highest quality organic and conventional sliced apples in the…