2020 Insights: Marketing

Advancements in packaging, logistics, and transportation are helping spur produce marketing efforts and augment supply. This holds true for both established and obscure fruits and vegetables.

Sajal Rohatgi and Manav Thaker, cofounders of Subziwalla, based in Tucker, GA, cite the example of the Alphonso mango, which they call “the King of Mangos,” a global specialty difficult to find outside of its native Maharashtra, India.

Grown in a small geographic area, this particular mango has a short cultivation period, does not travel well, and starts to deteriorate as soon as it is picked.

But better logistics and technology enabled Subziwalla to ship the mangos by air and offer them to the online grocer’s customers (many of whom have roots in India and hadn’t tasted the fruit for years). Being able to provide such service to customers not only builds sales, but loyalty.

Anthony Totta, founder and CEO of Fresh Xperts BB #:261158 and Grow My Profits LLC in Lees Summit, MO, is a fan of offering shoppers a wealth of information to support marketing.

“Consumers respond to preparation instruction, nutritional information, and meal recipe ideas printed on the packaging or at least attached,” he says. Further, he notes the success of using social media for photos and background on growers to build “a personal connection to real people and real stories.”

When it comes to social media, Albertsons Companies amplifies its message by streaming in-store demonstrations on Facebook Live and offering further information on highlighted products to reach a broader, and likely more diverse, population than possible in stores alone.

“We’re getting up to 1 million impressions with our Facebook Live demonstrations on the Safeway, Albertsons, and division platforms, so I think it’s resonating,” says Elaine Magee, corporate dietitian for Albertsons Companies BB #:193326 Wellness Services, based in Boise, ID.

That said, price still matters, even when driving sales through demonstrations. For example, a demo for a watermelon and feta cheese appetizer, paired with a special price on watermelons, drove sales at Albertsons. For higher-priced commodities, such as avocados, demonstrations include tips for how to store and preserve the fruit for less waste.

Touting convenience and health
The increasing availability of prepared foods featuring produce such as kebabs, guacamole, and precut vegetables and fruits also increasingly promotes health and wellness. “The bowls and bags are an easy solution,” notes Magee, especially when additional fruits or vegetables are added.

“The ‘eating healthy’ trend continues, and we must work hard and innovate to take full advantage,” says Steve Grinstead, CEO of the FreshEdge companies.

“I’m really excited about value-added products: there’s a strong trend towards picking up healthier snacks and meals. We’re working on developing new products every week in our USDA Kitchen and fresh-cut operations to meet demand and fully capitalize on this trend.”

This is a multi-part series adapted from the January 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints, featuring a variety of experts predicting what will be top of mind in 2020.