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Selling health at foodservice may work this time

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Restaurant dining is often seen as a treat, which is why produce has often failed to sell its health message in this segment.

Maybe, during a pandemic, a health message can resonate in foodservice like it is in retail.

But it’s not the “good-for-you” angle, so much as it’s the immunity boosting one.

In a Dec. 2 webinar discussing the latest edition of United Fresh’s BB #:145458 Fresh Insights for Foodservice, Mike Kostyo, trendologist for Datassential, the group who produces the data for the program, said certain fruits and vegetables are seeing stronger demand because of their association with immunity.

“Garlic was bigger this fall because of its immunity-boosting” reputation, he said.

Likewise, blueberries should see greater menu penetration this spring because they’re considered a superfood, high in antioxidants and vitamins, he said.

Additionally, Kostyo said, “blueberries go well with citrus, and citrus has been popular for its vitamin C” during the 2020 pandemic.
Citrus has certainly been an over-achiever at retail this year, with orange sales nearly double at times this spring and summer.

In the latest retail report from 210 Analytics, mandarins, tangerines and lemons are still up double-digits in sales through October, year-over-year, while berries have been up over last year every month and are the top selling fruit category.

Nutritionists, and produce journalists such as our Retail Editor Pamela Riemenschneider, will tell you, citrus isn’t the only Vitamin C champ.

Datassential released a chart earlier this year showing the foods that consumers associate with boosting immunity, which includes citrus, garlic and superfoods like blueberries, but also dark leafy greens and broccoli score high.

The pandemic is leaving many consumers with fear and uncertainty and added stress, so when they turn to restaurants, they’re not only looking for relief from food prep and some indulgence, they also have a subconscious need for resilience.

Since consumers already attribute many of these fruits and vegetable with immunity, foodservice marketers should give them a nudge toward what they’re looking for, whether they know it or not.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services