Pamela RiemenschneiderBolthouse Farms chief executive officer Jeff Dunn, left, talks with Trent DePaoli, center, of AustChili Pty Ltd., and Brian Vertrees, right, of Naturipe Farms, following the “Creating Fruit and Veggie Passion” session at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in New Orleans on Oct. 18.NEW ORLEANS — Junk food has the market cornered on appeal and creative thinking — or does it?
Bolthouse Farms, the company that took on the junk food industry with its innovative baby peeled carrot campaigns, is spearheading a collaborative effort in the produce industry to inspire a “food revolution.”
Jeff Dunn, chief executive officer of the Bakersfield, Calif.-based company led a workshop at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Oct. 18 to introduce a new initiative to bring together creative minds and marketers to spur demand, particularly among millennial consumers.
“We have a wonderful opportunity as the millennials go into their childbearing years to change the way we think about food,” Dunn said. “Our fruit and vegetable consumption per capita is down 7%. It’s about changing this trend.”
To do that, the industry must work together, he said, and that means marketing.
“We’re not winning the hearts and minds of (millennial) consumers because we’re not talking to them in a vernacular and style they’re used to,” Dunn said. “If you don’t market to them, you will fall behind.”
The average child sees more than 5,500 television ads per year, fewer than 100 of which are for healthful foods.
Though television may not be the ultimate method for reaching consumers, the fresh produce industry has an opportunity to reach them in a way that junk food can’t, said Lucas Donat, chief executive officer of Santa Monica, Calif.-based advertising firm dw+h.
“They care about doing business and consuming from brands that care about more than making a product,” he said. “They’re particularly interested in the story around how we source food.”
Donat pointed to Chiptole’s efforts, which talk not about their burritos but their efforts to source responsibly. New technologies, like social media, foster a relationship between marketers and consumers that has not existed in the past.
“Millenials don’t want to be spoken at, they don’t want a one-way conversation,” he said “Those days are over. The way to do it is through an emotionally engaging story.”
The industry needs to pool its resources to launch a widespread campaign to market more effectively and drive demand for fresh produce, Dunn said.
Those interested in joining the effort can log in to the PMA Xchange at www.xchange.pma.com and join the “Creating Fruit and Veggie Passion!” discussion led by Bolthouse chief marketing officer Todd Putnam.
“We want you to share your thoughts, and any case studies ... things that have worked or haven’t,” Dunn said. “If we can start to distill down what we know in our heads into a community of storytellers ... we can find the technology to bring it to life.”
And there are many out there looking to help, he said, and often will do it at a fraction of the cost. Bolthouse recently worked with San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner on a campaign that tripled demand for its Shakedowns carrot pack.
“He came in for free because he wanted kids to have a better relationship with food,” Dunn said. “There is a whole community of folks who are not in the produce business who want to help solve this problem. We’ve been amazed at when we bring them opportunities, they don’t say they need $2 million, they say ‘sign me up because I want to be part of the solution.’”
That kind of input, along with crowdsourcing marketing efforts, can help get fresh produce where it needs to be, Dunn said.
“All of us together can actually do this,” he said. “And this is not something for five years out, this is now.”