Don’t discount produce’s health message - The Packer

Don’t discount produce’s health message

12/12/2013 06:16:00 PM
John Sauve and David Swardlick

John Sauve, Food and Wellness GroupJohn Sauve, Food and Wellness GroupIt’s been a newsworthy few weeks for produce marketing and our collective failure to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

First, Michelle Obama, standing with none other than Elmo and Rosita, (along with the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Produce Marketing Association) announced an exciting offer by Sesame Workshop to allow Sesame Street characters to be used in marketing fruits and veggies.

Then, Michael Moss, bestselling author of “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us,” published a provocative New York Times article called “Broccoli’s Extreme Makeover.”

In his story, Moss reports on his proactive investigation of what happens when really talented professional marketers wrap their heads around the challenge of increasing sales of a produce item like broccoli.

David Swardlick, Food and Wellness GroupDavid Swardlick, Food and Wellness GroupAs Moss says, “... there is some change in the air when it comes to marketing healthful food in America.”

Moss’s premise is that health messages are “simply overwhelmed, in volume and effectiveness, by junk-food ads that often deploy celebrities or cartoon characters to great effect.”

He adds that despite “all the evidence piling up on behalf of the benefits of eating more produce, it has become clear that neither children nor adults will do this unless they want to.”

One of the key takeaways from the broccoli makeover story is “health doesn’t sell.”

The article implies that the produce industry needs to focus its creative messaging efforts on something other than the health benefits of fruits and veggies if it wants people to buy and consume more.

At The Colors of Health, we believe this is not only wrong, it also creates the likelihood that the most powerful tool we have to increase produce consumption will be abandoned while we shift all our attention to “health-less” creative tactics, abdicating fruits’ and veggies’ rightful position as the healthiest foods on earth.

The fact is, health does sell. Just ask the industry groups behind blueberries, avocados, pomegranates kale, and nuts — like walnuts and almonds, to name a few.

The total pounds of annual production and per-capita consumption of these commodities have experienced tremendous growth over the past decade because of one principal element of their marketing strategy — their health story!

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Kathy Means    
Newark, DE  |  December, 17, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Health is a vital message for our industry. So is taste, fun, and convenience. We have to compete with many other consumer food choices. To do that, we must use every marketing tool in the toolbox. Different people are motivated by different things -- including kids' motivators like Sesame Street characters. Let's be sure we resonate with consumers of all types and meet consumers wherever they are.

Beth Valdettaro    
Indianapolis, IN  |  December, 17, 2013 at 02:43 PM

The Indianapolis Fruit Company and their brand, The Produce Mom have succeeded in using social media messaging to communicate how produce is "Delicious, Nutritious, Convenient and Affordable." Consumers are responding well to short, upbeat and informative comments from their peer, The Produce Mom, who communicates how to "Select, Store and Serve" via her website blog, Both Moms and Kids are motivated by bright, fun graphics and clear messaging. Schools are getting involved through their "Find Your Favorite" program of celebrity heroes who challenge children to try new items and to select their own healthy options. A great strategy for an important message.

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