( Photo by The Packer staff )

It may be safe to say that oldsters may be slower to warm to the new Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Have a Plant message than younger folk.

The bold move by PBH to embrace the new message isn’t without risks.

When I asked the LinkedIn Produce Industry Discussion Group about their initial thoughts on the newly unveiled campaign, there were mixed responses. Some liked it. One skeptic said that Have a Plant sounded “like a call to goats.” Another said he assumed the research and consumer data behind the move was sound but said seeing actual creative materials associated with the campaign would give more insight — “a slogan does not a campaign make.”

The excitement of the campaign’s unveiling was felt at the PBH Consumer Connection conference April 23 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“The produce industry does need to be at the forefront of the plant-forward movement; after all, we are the original plant-based diet,” said Kathy Means, vice president of demand creation and consumer affairs for the Produce Marketing Association. 

“And Have a Plant puts us squarely there. Regardless of diet preference — vegan, keto, vegetarian — or no preference — consumers are interested in incorporating more plant foods into their diets.”
Leah Halverson, director of new business development for Black Gold Farms, Grand Forks, N.D., told me the Have a Plant message is “active, exciting and positive.”

“I think that’s really going to resonate with this new generation coming and trying to figure out how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet when they shop,” she said. 

She said it is a message that invites consumers to join the plant-based movement and make fruits and vegetables a part of their lifestyles.

In announcing the new call to action, Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and CEO of PBH, said PBH was having a watershed moment on April 23.

“And so now is the time for change; out with kind of the old finger-wagging approach to promoting fruits and vegetables — we all know that they’re healthy for us,” she said.

“But that’s not really what consumers are looking for. And so there’ll be less of the finger wagging, more of an emphasis on the feeling, the emotion, and of course, hopefully the doing.”

Reinhardt Kapsak said it is time to “ignite a new relationship” with fruits and vegetables for consumers.

While the safe play probably would have been to keep the existing “More Matters” message, PBH is thinking strategically with a “plant-forward” mindset. 

PBH has done an outstanding job of assembling influencers and social media ambassadors to carry the message to consumers in a low-cost way. Delivering on industry expectations for increased consumption levels will be another test.

Reinhardt Kapsak said PBH is playing the “long game” in driving the success of the Have a Plant campaign.

“So this movement is more than just today. This is just the beginning. And so when we can make nature second nature, that’s when we know that we’ve made a real significant change.”

Tom Karst is The Packer’s editor. E-mail him at [email protected].

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