US branded and private label food producer Del Monte Foods is launching a range of canned vegetables marketed under the Sesame Street brand.

The company will be offering vegetables featuring Sesame Street characters such as Elmo and Grover in specialty four-packs of each variety in grocery stores nationwide, and eight and twelve-packs in select club retailers.

The product packaging features one of the three Sesame Street characters, Elmo with Green Beans, Grover with Sweet Peas and Cookie Monster with Corn, along with on-pack activities developed by the Sesame Workshop.

"Children used to seeing Elmo and his friends Cookie Monster and Grover on television will now see them in grocery stores everywhere, encouraging them to eat their vegetables," said Del Monte's senior vice president for consumer products Apu Mody.

Del Monte Food announced the link-up with the nonprofit educational organisation Sesame Workshop at the Licensing Show in New York City in June 2006.

A study conducted by the Sesame Workshop in 2003 indicated that pre-school children's consumption of a particular food, in this case broccoli, increased by 28% if the product was branded with a Sesame Street character.

Del Monte said the Sesame Street branding initiative is aimed at promoting healthier eating habits among children. Research suggests that fewer than 15% of elementary school age children eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

"At Del Monte, we are passionate about nourishing families and enriching lives every day by offering a variety of healthful, convenient and great tasting products," Modi said. "We are proud to support Sesame Workshop's Healthy Habits for Life initiative, a content-based programme to help young children and their families lead healthier lives through improved nutrition, physical activity, and hygiene."