click image to zoomArteaga's Food CenterArteaga's Food Center offers fresh and dried fruit, nuts, water, yogurt and granola bars in its healthy checkout pilot for the Network for a Healthy California retail program. There’s no doubt about it: Increasing sales of fruits and vegetables is no longer just a matter of increasing consumption for the benefits of the nutrients they provide. Obesity rates are at an all-time high and are only increasing. These days, the need for produce marketing is essential, because Generation X is the first generation that is not predicted to achieve a greater life expectancy than their parents.
“Generation X was blindsided in its formative years by suddenly time-starved parents who no longer had time to cook balanced meals,” says Chuck Underwood, president of The Generational Imperative, which consults and trains organizations in various generational strategies. “So GenX kids began the epidemic youth obesity. It continues to this day with Millennials, but parents and schools are starting to push back, so we should begin to see different health core values in a few years.”
Although produce marketing is getting savvier, it has yet to capitalize on impulse purchases at the checkout stand. Nine out of 10 shoppers make impulse purchases, according to a recent survey by “The Checkout,” an ongoing series of shopper-behavior reports published by the retail branding firm The Integer Group.
“That’s an opportunity where people can make a difference,” says Carlos Torres, retail manager for the San Francisco Bay Area for the Network for a Healthy California. The organization’s retail program is designed to help retailers increase fresh produce sales and promote a healthy lifestyle. One such initiative is the Healthy Checkout Lane.
“Produce is particularly profitable for retailers,” says Elizabeth Pivonka, president and CEO of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, Hockessin, Del. “And people are more likely to pick it up if it’s in the checkout lane.”
According to PBH research of primary shoppers in 2012, supermarket flyers, newspaper ads, and signs on supermarket displays rank higher than television, radio, Internet advertisements, billboards and social media as the communication methods shoppers find most effective when it comes to making a food decision.
Profit loss, or profitability?
Lupe Lopez, owner of Arteaga’s Food Center, a small chain of 10 stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, points out that produce has a bigger profit margin than the candy. Arteaga’s Food Center is one of the pilot stores for the Network for a Healthy California retail program. When she was approached by the network, Lopez says she didn’t have to think twice. She knew it was a winning idea.