A carrot is about to be dangled in front of kids alongside a host of other cuddly toy fruit and veg characters to show them ‘the friendly side of fruit and veg’ and encourage them to eat their five-a-day.

The Goodness Gang, an eight-week promotional campaign devised by promotions company TCC, allows shoppers to collect eight soft toys if they buy certain amounts of bananas, pears, strawberries, cherries, aubergines, broccoli, carrots and garlic.

The scheme will launch in the UK at the end of the summer, to coincide with the back to school season.

TCC said it was talking to most of the major mults about the Goodness Gang but would not be drawn on who it expected to sign up. In the past, TCC has run ­reward schemes for Spar, Esso and Makro.

TCC UK and Ireland general manager David Ringer said he was confident the scheme would resonate with UK retailers, given its focus on getting families to eat more healthy fruit and veg. “Fresh produce is a very important area for the retailers it delivers higher margins than average and promoting fresh fruit and vegetables fits in very well with supermarkets’ corporate social responsibility agendas,” he said.

The Goodness Gang scheme would focus on getting parents and kids to consider fruit and veg instead of less healthy snack foods, Ringer added. “We are using an eight-week programme to drive behavioural changes and increase children’s awareness by showing them the friendly side of fruit and veg,” he said. “When it ends, many consumers will be inclined to continue eating more fresh fruit and veg.”

The toys will be merchandised alongside the fruit and veg to encourage shoppers to buy. Ringer said he expected retailers to align their use of the Goodness Gang with price promotions to ensure maximum impact.

“We need to work harder to get over the impression that fruit and veg are good value, tasty and healthy. Anything to get people talking, really,” he said.

In Colombia, the first country to try out the scheme, the campaign delivered a value sales uplift of between 3% and 4% over its eight-week duration, and TCC and its retail partners are targeting a similar uplift in the UK.

The launch of the scheme comes as concerns are rising that shoppers are starting to cut back on fruit and veg. Last week, The Grocer reported most shoppers had noticed prices going up, with young people and those on low incomes particularly likely to reduce the amount they eat.