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Show empathy for consumers’ inflation struggles

Inflation is hitting consumers hard, especially in food.

Unfortunately, the produce industry can’t do much about inflation, as it’s the product of macro- and global economic decisions, policies, and actions.

But we can be informed, aware and empathetic to consumers dealing with it.

At the recent Brandstorm conference May 16-18 held by International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962, I was asked to present a workshop on products and the supply chain, but what I really focused on was how inflation affects products and consumers and what that meant to the workshop audience, which was primarily produce marketers.

I told attendees to take what they could from the information and think how they could make it meaningful to their audience, whether it was consumers, their supply chain partners or even their co-workers or bosses.

Whether you as a leader works in fruits or vegetables, your audiences are seeing different levels of inflation. In fact, you can look up what these numbers are by commodity, and you should have that information for your audiences.

It’s worth knowing how produce compares to other perishable categories. Overall perishables dollar growth is 7.6 percent from April 2022 to April 2021, and volume decline is 3.2 percent.

Produce’s year-over-year dollar growth is lower than the overall category, and volume decline is higher. In fact, its dollar growth is lower than any perishable category but seafood, and its volume decline is higher than any by meat and seafood.

Consumers know this inflation is going on, and they know it’s not a short term problem.

How can produce respond?
This brings us to what produce marketers (and others in the produce industry) can do, and I think the answer is, show empathy.

One way to do that is to emphasize value to consumers. Value can be lower prices, but it’s also with value-added products. Time has value. It can be different ways to save money like coupons, buy-one-get-ones, loyalty club discounts and education for consumers to avoid food waste, so they get the most value out of what they buy.

It’s a tough time for many consumers. Show them that you know and you’re trying to help.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services