Fresh produce companies have a serious opportunity when it comes to branding, according to The Nielsen Co.

The branded produce dollar share continues to rise, now accounting for 38.5% of the category, but 55% of consumers shop without a brand in mind, Nielsen found.

In other words, the loyalty of those consumers is up for grabs because the growth in branded produce has less to do with shoppers seeking a certain label and more to do with the benefits of packaged produce, especially convenience and space to communicate information important to consumers, like whether a product is organic.

Nielsen suggests that companies can take advantage of that interest in packaging to sell consumers the brand as well as their fruits or vegetables.

“Brands are really well positioned to first and foremost have more communication to the shopper, so because of the growing shopper interest in transparency — how was my food grown, where was my food grown, who grew it — the brands have a ripe opportunity to communicate that information on the packaging,” said Matt Lally, manager of fresh growth and strategy for Nielsen,

Lally noted that general health claims may not be as effective as they once were because similar ones are popping up in many store departments as companies react to consumer interest in health and wellness. Lally suggested that providing more detailed information instead would be helpful.

“There’s real opportunities for brands to have greater communication around the specific health benefits of their items,” Lally said. “So if it’s rich in Vitamin A or Vitamin K or whatever the other nutrients and minerals may be, not only pulling that out for the consumer but helping them understand what that means for them through their health and wellness journey ... helping link it to the actual health benefit of, ‘It helps increase your energy,’ or whatever it is that may be proven as the specific benefit.”

Packaging may be one of the main ways for produce brands to reach shoppers because traditionally companies in the industry have not advertised much. The Wonderful Co., which develops TV commercials for its brands of mandarins, pomegranate products and pistachios, is the most obvious exception.

Wonderful is in a small club, as Nielsen reported that two brands account for 77% of produce media spend. Of produce brands with at least $1 million in sales, less than 10% spent any budget on advertising in the last year.

 

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