A good produce marketing program not only increases sales for growers, shippers and retailers, it also helps promote a healthy lifestyle for consumers.
But marketers say that when you focus your message on kids, there’s a third benefit.
“Given that children are the future shoppers of fresh produce, developing programs with them in mind will pay dividends for both the health of the population and the growth of our industry,” said Megan Schulz, director of communications for Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos.
“It’s important for our industry to help parents and caregivers encourage children’s interest in fruits and vegetables from an early age,” she said.
Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash., had that philosophy in mind when it developed its Lil Snappers kid-size fruit brand, said Brianna Shales, communications manager.
If they enjoy what they eat, then they will eat it for a lifetime.
“We thought a lot about sharing fruit with kids that was not only in the right serving size for them — with less food waste — but also in the right high-flavor varieties,” she said.
“The premium quality and fact that we are choosy about the varieties we offer in Lil Snappers is helping to build fruit fans for tomorrow,” she said.
“If they enjoy what they eat, then they will eat it for a lifetime.”
Kids themselves spend about $30 billion annually in the U.S., said Cherie Boldt, marketing director for Fairfield, N.J.-based Crispy Green Inc., maker of Crispy Fruit brand freeze-dried fruit snacks and a Produce for Kids sponsor.
Parents spend an additional $600 billion.
It’s a bit of an insurance policy for future customers.
Since research shows that kids are likely to stick with brands they discover at a young age, it pays to reach out to them, she said.
“It’s a bit of an insurance policy for future customers,” Boldt said.
Fresno, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC keeps kids in mind when marketing cantaloupes and watermelons from its Los Angeles-based Dulcinea Farms division, said Thorsten Rhode, senior director of marketing.
“Research tells us that the likelihood of a household buying our products increases significantly with the number of kids in the household,” he said.
The company does not market directly to kids, though.
“We communicate to the parents — the decision-makers — and are looking to include more ‘good for the entire family’ messaging,” he said.
Kids play an important role in helping parents choose what goes on their shopping lists, said Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing for Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co.
“We really believe that kids are the catalyst for change with the family in terms of eating healthy,” he said.
The company’s Halos brand mandarins are “moving up the list of preferred snacks” because they’re sweet, easy to eat and healthful for kids, Cooper said.
The company has launched a $20 million-plus marketing campaign called Good Choice, Kid to emphasize the benefits of healthful eating and has created a number of commercials and videos that feature parents and kids doing things together “and making a good, healthy choice,” he said.
We really believe that kids are the catalyst for change with the family in terms of eating healthy.
The need for healthful options for kids is essential, said Mac Riggan, director of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Wash.
“In the U.S., the percentage of children 14 and under who are affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s,” he said.
“Data from 2015-16 show that nearly 1-in-5 school-age children and young people 6-19 has obesity,” Riggan said.
Parents are challenged to provide their children with food that is healthful, he said. But it also must taste good.
The company’s pears, cherries and apples — especially its kid-friendly Rocket apple variety — fill the bill for good-tasting, healthful options for kids, he said.
Westlake Village-based Dole Food Co. also emphasizes kids in its marketing efforts, said Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications.
“Unfortunately, statistics prove that kids aren’t eating enough fresh produce,” he said.
“At Dole, our mission is to increase America’s nutritional health through increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and kids and families are certainly a big part of that commitment,” Goldfield said.
In recent years, the company has introduced a number of innovative campaigns, programs and in-store events that encourage kids and families to eat more fresh produce, he said.