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Youth is Served

Retailers can promote healthy fruit and veggie snacks for children by offering convenient, grab-and-go products coupled with proper marketing and in-store displays.


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Getting children to eat their fruits and veggies is no easy feat. It is a safe bet that most parents have said at one point or another, “finish your vegetables and then you can have a treat.” And more times than not, that treat likely contained processed sugars, hydrogenated oils, or artificial colors and preservatives. 

But what if kids viewed fruits and veggies as a special treat, too? Retailers and suppliers can help parents promote healthy produce snacks that kids will enjoy. Food marketing to children strongly influences unhealthy food and beverage preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). By merchandising and marketing produce in the same way that junk food is promoted, children may be more drawn to healthier snacks. 

 That is the thinking behind Dole Food Co.’s summer campaign, “Fuel-Up with Dole,” themed to Disney Pixar’s Cars 3. “Research shows that favorite characters have a tremendous influence on acceptance and behaviors among children,” says Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications at the Westlake Village, Calif.-based company. “In fact, when kids see favorite characters promoting fruit and vegetable consumption, they are more likely to choose fruits and vegetables themselves.”

The four-month program, which launched May 25, features on-product and in-store messaging, character-inspired recipes, digital integrations, events and promotions designed to encourage children and their families to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables this summer. Through its partnership with Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI), Dole aims to support parents as they encourage their kids to make healthier food choices, says Goldfield. 

Fun, youth-targeted events are another way to engage children and promote healthy snacking. Produce for Kids, based in Orlando, Fla., continuously works with companies through campaigns to promote fruit and vegetable nutrition and recipes. This year, the company is hosting several rock-and-roll nutrition shows at Meijer grand openings from June 4 through July 1. The campaign’s show, Jump with Jill, was created by a registered dietician and professional musician, using music and dance to promote nutrition education. 

“The donations raised during the Meijer campaign fund in-school performances at the Meijer market’s area from Jump with Jill. We’ve funded 100 in-school performances,” says Trish James, vice president of Produce for Kids. The campaign will also feature Jump with Jill appearances and colorful displays in stores, as well as recipe cards featuring sponsor brands like Well•Pict Berries. “As we enter our peak season, we have a sufficient, highly promotable supply of conventional and organic strawberries, as well as raspberries,” says Dan Crowley, vice president of sales for Well•Pict Berries, based in Watsonville, Calif. “We’re excited to once again sponsor Produce For Kids’ collaboration with Meijer to bring Jump for Jill to local Michigan schools.”

In addition to promotional campaigns, in-store displays are key when it comes to encouraging sales. Produce for Better Health Foundation’s 2016 Primary Shoppers Report found that while some purchase decisions are controlled and involve self-awareness, others are fast, emotional and frequently unconscious. With proper bright, colorful and eye-catching displays, parents and children can be drawn to certain items and led to a purchase. “Because so many choices are made with minimal thought or effort, the combination of in-store food displays coupled with actionable information is a very effective way to enhance sales,” says Catherine Gipe-Stewart, communication manager for Yakima, Wash.-based Domex Superfresh Growers.

Domex offers retailers merchandising bins to display its apples and cherries, as well as digital marketing kits with recipes and images for all of its fruit varieties, including apples, pears, cherries and apricots. This season, Domex is promoting its Washington summer apple program, which is available in 3-pound pouches ready for road trips, barbecues and other summertime occasions. 

The 2016 Primary Shoppers Report also found that the third highest barrier for produce consumption is requiring ways to prepare it. Convenience continues to be a driving factor in grocery, and the produce category is no exception. Domex saw bagged packaging drive apple and stone fruit growth in 2016. “The re-sealable part is a consumer favorite,” says Gipe-Stewart. “We often hear from parents that they enjoy having a bag of cherries or apples in the car as a healthy snack for their kids.”

Parents are often short on time to prepare food and seek easy, healthy snacking options for their children. Naturipe Farms, based in Salinas, Calif., offers convenient 5.5-ounce snack packs featuring fresh strawberries, blueberries and grapes paired with creamy cheese and crunchy roasted nuts to satisfy sweet, salty and savory cravings that both parents and children can enjoy. “With consumers increasingly seeking better-for-you snack options, Naturipe Snacks nourish with protein, fiber, vitamin C, calcium and more,” says Brian Jenny, vice president, value-added fresh for Naturipe. “This ready-to-eat, convenient and portable snack combination meets the need for time-strapped, health-conscious consumers.”

Dole is also catering toward convenience for parents with this year’s launch of DOLE GO Berries!, meeting the increased demand for portable fresh fruit. The snack packs feature three snap-off clamshells, each containing 4-ounces of fresh strawberries. “Fresh produce has long been a favorite choice for kids and families looking for a healthy snack option,” says Goldfield. “In fact, convenience, handheld, ready-to-eat fresh fruits and vegetables continue to grow in popularity in recent years. While bananas and fresh-cut pineapples, berries and other fresh fruit have long been a favorite snack, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to make eating healthy easier and more convenient.” 

In addition to offering convenient on-the-go product options, Goldfield says retailers can place secondary single-serve banana displays near checkout to promote the bananas as a grab-and-go convenience snack and a healthy alternative kids will enjoy.    

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