( The Packer Staff )

When one thinks about the many changes produce marketers have witnessed throughout the past 25 to 30 years, one of our biggest ongoing challenges is moving the consumption needle upward. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture consistently finds that consumers have not been eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables. 

In the late 1980s and throughout the 90s, our industry’s focus was on marketing health and nutrition. That has since shifted to emphasize the tastes, textures, and sensory delights inherent in fresh fruits and vegetables that consumers are seeking in meal experiences. 

More and more suppliers are developing innovative ways to showcase the full flavor potential of fruits and vegetables through strategic marketing approaches that combine merchandising, advertising, and engaging online content. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy spending time with exhibitors during PMA’s Fresh Summit Expo in October: to see our industry’s creativity come to life.

Yet, while some marketing approaches have shifted away from health, the ever-growing plant-based foods movement provides our industry with a new opportunity to educate consumers that fruits and vegetables are a key part of this lifestyle. While plant-based can certainly include fruits and vegetables, it cannot replace them in consumer diets and eating habits.
Another cultural change produce marketers have responded to is the advent of social media and the multitude of channels from which consumers can receive information. Twenty-five years ago, the Internet was in its infancy and the smart-est phone of the age might be able to just capture a picture.

Today, three-quarters of U.S. consumers say they have purchased a product they discovered in a brand’s social media post, while 40% shop online at least once per week, a number that rises to 52% for 18-34-year olds. 

And while platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat are popular, what is certain is the power of video. Studies have found that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading it. 

As marketers, think about what that means for your video content and social channels.

It is on these platforms that our hyper-connected consumers are seeking more information about the foods they eat, how those foods are produced, and who produces them. 

According to Nielsen, transparency remains one of the top issues consumers care about and they are looking for brands that align with their values. A few years ago, research conducted by the Hartman Group for PMA found consumers are getting information about industry practices from consumer advocacy groups first, followed by the government, and then the company itself.

Through leveraging technology and digital media to tell our stories, produce and floral marketers can transform and strengthen not only their brand communication, but also their consumer connections.

As we look ahead to the next 25 years, one thing is certain: Consumers will continue to become more informed as society and technology becomes more interconnected, be it online or in the store or restaurant.

Our job as marketers is to ensure they have the utmost trust in the fresh fruits and vegetables they eat – be that in terms of safety, product quality, consistent and delightful flavors, etc. 

This is how we will grow a healthier world.

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Submitted by R Henry on Thu, 08/08/2019 - 14:02

"the ever-growing plant-based foods movement provides our industry with a new opportunity to educate consumers that fruits and vegetables are a key part of this lifestyle."

Wrong. Everybody already knows fruits and vegetables are healthy...there is no ground to be gained there. Any resources dedicated to "education" are wasted.