Mealtime with kids: friend or foe? For many parents and caregivers, meals and snacks are often riddled with guilt for feeding kids things that they will eat, not necessarily what they should eat. It’s not uncommon for kids to be exceptionally picky eaters, have strong preferences for select fruits or vegetables (like apples, grapes, or baby carrots), or to resist trying new foods with all their might. There’s a big, colorful world of delicious, nutrient-packed fresh produce options out there, but many kids are only trying a fraction of the possibilities.
It got me thinking: How can we, as the fresh produce industry, move kids beyond the basics and encourage them (and their parents and caregivers) to expand their proverbial horizons to try something new?
A to Z: 26 ways to get kids interested in fresh produce
What if the answer is as simple as the ABCs? Here are 26 ways we can help encourage families to go beyond the basics when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. Let’s give it a try!
- Accessible: Make more produce options accessible to kids. From school lunch programs to providing samples in stores, getting more fruits and vegetables in front of kids will encourage consumption.
- Budget: Appealing to the budget can be an opportunity to sell in more fruits and vegetables. Try highlighting costs in new ways—per serving, per meal, etc.—to position fresh foods as affordable, budget-friendly options for families.
- Choice: Providing choices—including varieties, sizes, and value-adds—can encourage increased sales, because options give consumers the opportunity to choose what works best with their needs.
- Data: Share interesting data points or stats about fruits and vegetables. Think about what might make them appealing to kids or families, and use that information on signage in your store. There are lots of ideas to merchandise produce throughout the Freshspective blog—including avocados, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mangos, pineapple, and more.
- Easy: Consider what might make the purchase easier for your consumer. Strategically place produce near other food or products that pair well together or provide a meal solution. For example, place skewers and baby bell peppers near steak to encourage kebobs.
- Features: Highlight the product’s best features. Is it the taste, texture, or nutrition? Is it a good value for a family? Super versatile? Whatever it is, highlight it in your promotion.
- Good: Consumers want a great eating experience. That’s especially true if they’re buying something out of the ordinary. Make sure your fresh produce department is full of high quality produce just waiting to be consumed.
- Healthy: Kids may not want to know that what they are eating is healthy, but adults do. And each piece of fresh produce comes with its own health benefits. Be sure to share them with consumers.
- Itemize: When I’m purchasing something I’ve never tried before, I want to buy it in small quantities. If possible, offer single items of more unique fruits and vegetables to encourage consumers to take one home and try it out.
- Join: Consider joining or partnering with organizations and campaigns—like Kids Speak Fresh—to help make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible (see A above) to kids.
- KISS: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Remember, your goal is to get kids to try out new fruits and veggies. One of the easiest things you can do is offer samples. Let them touch, taste, and enjoy the product.
- Limited-time: Consider offering limited-time sales or offers on more unique products where you’d like to increase sales.
- Moms and dads: Kids may rule the roost, but parents are paying. Appeal to parents and caretakers when marketing lesser-known produce.
- Nutrition: This goes hand-in-hand with health aspects. Remember to include nutrition information, and make it fun. Kids gravitate toward information they understand: “Carrots help you see better,” or “Strawberries make you a superhero.” Remember, you want them to want the produce and to keep coming back for more.
- Opinion leaders: Pediatricians, registered dietitians, bloggers, and teachers are all opinion leaders who parents listen to when it comes to feeding their kids. Produce managers can fit this description if they are out on the floor, talking with consumers, and encouraging them to think beyond the apple.
- Packaging: Attractive packaging can draw attention to a product. Make it fun, unique, and attention-getting to really reel in those consumers. And, if packaging isn’t an option, consider signage and displays in the same way.
- Quiz: Who doesn’t love a good game? Post a question about the produce type, variety, or nutrition facts and see if consumers can guess the answer. Make the answer accessible, and you’ll see consumers reading the question out loud and sharing the information with their kids.
- Recipes: Feature recipes that use the less popular fruits and vegetables. Show consumers how they can prepare food so their kids enjoy it. Bonus points if you can find kid-friendly recipes where kids can help prepare the food.
- Social media: Share beautiful photos of food on your social media channels and encourage your consumers to do the same. And, don’t forget Pinterest as an opportunity to share recipes.
- Trust: Build trust between you, your employees, and your consumers. When your consumer base trusts your recommendations, they’re more likely to follow them. And that can mean more sales.
- Unique: Embrace the unique and promote it. I bought a horned melon one day because it was unique and not the same old, same old. Encourage others to do the same.
- Value-added: Don’t forget to make it easy for families. Value-added products like peeled, sliced, diced, meal-time ready products all make a big splash with families. If you can do most of the perceived hard work (cleaning, peeling, cutting, etc.), consumers may be more likely to try out something new.
- Word of mouth: If you like it, tell your friends. And tell them to tell their friends once they’ve tried it. It’s the old fashioned social media.
- eXample: Set an example for others. Join efforts to bring produce to kids more often, offer new and innovative ways to market fresh produce, and drive a new generation toward our industry.
- Youth activities: Seek out opportunities to get fresh produce in front of kids—beyond schools. Think about community youth leagues or other activities in your area and learn how you can participate.
- Zero in: Remember, there’s nothing wrong with the fruits and vegetables kids traditionally enjoy. But if we can zero in on expanding their boundaries, we can increase their love and enjoyment of fresh produce.
Together, we can improve access to all fruits and vegetables (yes, even those more uncommon ones) to reach kids far and wide. Fresh produce exudes health and wellness, and it’s a great honor for all of us to be part of this industry.
At Robinson Fresh, we’re proud to offer the fresh food and smart logistics solutions that help make fresh produce accessible. Our commitment continues through our Kids Speak Fresh campaign. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about merchandising opportunities aligned with the campaign.