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2021: Produce marketing and messaging adjusts

Even with the uptick in purchasing, Covid hasn’t moved the needle much when it comes to produce consumption in the U.S.

“We’re in a chronic consumer crisis, even with the incremental uptick, and we’re not even close to consuming the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables,” says Katie Toulouse, marketing and communications director for the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation BB #:157162, based in St. Louis, MO.

“We can’t let up on the gas—if a global pandemic doesn’t change behavior, what will?”

“People just have a lack of basic kitchen know-how,” she continues, reporting that consumer searches on healthy foods, how to wash fruit, and other basic prep and nutrition information climbed during the pandemic.

Such interest also led PBH to upgrade its Webex platform after 2,000 people registered for its wellness webinar series, and Google organic traffic to its Covid-19 resources page jumped 75 percent from the first quarter in 2020 to the second.

“The investment our members made in 2019 on the website and new messaging has really paid off during the pandemic,” Toulouse says. “In 2021, we need to double down on our digital and social engagement.”

Not an entirely easy task. One very effective tool, in-store dietitian promotions, dried up.

On the other hand, as dietitians work from home, “they’re doing more in the digital and online space than ever before,” Toulouse says, citing virtual consulting and cooking demonstrations on Facebook Live and YouTube.

For Carmela Cugini, chief revenue officer at Bowery Farming in New York, the virus pushed many consumers to seek greater transparency.

“Eighty-one percent of shoppers recently surveyed said transparency is more important than ever before,” she said.

Don Goodwin, founder and former president of GoldenSun Insights, notes that the growing use of mobile phones for ecommerce will mean rethinking design and marketing.

“With half of ecommerce done on phones, you’re going from a rather huge display at retail to the small screen—that’s a dramatic shift.”

Safety will also likely be part of the marketing messages going forward. Naturipe Farms, LLC, BB #:116078 headquartered in Estero, FL, highlighted the best cleaning and food safety practices for the Covid era in its marketing this year, according to CarrieAnn Arias, vice president of marketing for the grower-shipper.

This is a feature from the cover story of the January/February 2021 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the full article.