Produce for Better Health Foundation led an online workshop on consumer feelings and behavior at United Fresh Live! ( Screen capture by Amy Sowder )

Fruit and vegetable consumption must become a habit among consumers if the industry wants to see it rise, and it must be easy for them.

“It’s not always easy to make things easy for your consumers,” said Jason Riis, chief behavioral scientist for the Produce for Better Health Foundation. “You can’t just give people information; you have to make it easy for them to do it.”

Riis joined Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, PBH president and CEO, at a United Fresh Live! virtual conference workshop June 17, to delve into what feelings and habits accelerate fresh produce consumption.

Company leaders need to ask if they’ve made it easy for consumers to see, grab, find, eat immediately, plan to eat, plan to buy, keep around, buy, like, clean and pack their products.

There is a strong correlation between the number of days a week fruit and vegetables are consumed and a person’s level of happiness, Reinhardt Kapsak said.

According to a 2017 PBH study, 65% of people who eat vegetables six to seven days a week say they have been happy in the last four weeks, compared to 55% of those who eat vegetables less often, and 42% of people who eat no vegetables at all.

But what about people who live in food deserts, Reinhardt Kapsak asked.

“Our studies show people of lower socio-economic status and less access to fresh fruits and vegetables feel more hopelessness and have feelings that they have no control over their lives,” Reinhardt Kapsak said.

There’s one emotion that companies can tap into when it comes to consumer feelings and behavior: pride.

Pride plays an important role in shaping goal-directed behavior, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, and leads to greater perseverance, Riis said.

Public recognition is a key aspect of pride.

Companies can help consumers feel pride in the fresh produce they eat by encouraging them to share about it on social media.

“I take pride in being a fruit and veggie parent, and that pride helps me,” Riis said. “We need more imagery, posts, likes, comments and hashtags about these things.”

Exposure and repetition are also key factors in making it easy for consumers, especially parents trying to get their children to eat more vegetables.

“Cultivate enjoyment through exposure,” he said.

Riis said 80% of parents had success in getting their children to like a vegetable or fruit after 14 days of exposure.

“It’s not easy. There will be failures. Repetition. Doing it consistently is hard, but it gets easier over time,” Riis said.

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