Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in the summer of 2016, but getting kids interested in healthy food should always be important.
Dinnertime with kids: friend or foe? For many parents, this time of day is riddled with guilt for feeding kids just what they will eat, not often what they should eat. At my house, I have a picky eater. Sure, he likes his fruits and vegetables—but only select vegetables: green beans, baby carrots, and corn on the cob. Same with fruit: strawberries, bananas, and watermelon. It got me thinking. How can we, as the fresh industry, move kids beyond the basics and encourage them (and their parents) to try something new?
What if it was as simple as the ABCs? I think we could give it a shot. Here are 26 ways we can help encourage families to go beyond the basics when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Accessible: Make more 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 the cost in a new way—per serving, per meal, etc.—to position fresh as an affordable, budget-friendly option for families.
- Choice: Providing choices—varieties, sizes, etc.—can encourage increased sales, as options can make consumers feel like they can choose what works best for them.
- Data: Share data points or stats about lesser-known fruits and vegetables. Think about what might make them appealing to kids or families, and use that information on signage in your store. A great place to start with avocados is our recent blog post, “15 Things You Didn’t Know About Avocados.”
- Easy: Consider what might make the purchase easier for your consumer. Strategically place the produce near other food or products that pair well. For example, consider skewers and mini-peppers near steak to encourage kabobs.
- Features: Highlight the product’s best features. Is it the taste, texture, or nutrition? Is it a good value for a family? Make that the highlight of the promotion.
- Good: Consumers want a great eating experience. That’s especially true when buying something out of the ordinary. Make sure your fresh produce department is full of good produce just waiting to be consumed.
- Healthy: Kids may not want to know that what they are eating is healthy, but parents do. And each piece of fresh produce comes with its own healthy aspects. Be sure to share these with consumers.
- Itemize: When I look to buy something new, I want to buy it in small quantities—or even a single item. 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. The simplest thing 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: Appeal to the moms (and dads). Kids may rule the roost, but parents are paying. Don’t leave out the parents when marketing lesser-known produce.
- Nutrition: This goes hand-in-hand with healthy 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 super heroes.” Remember, you want them to want the produce and to keep coming back for more.
- Opinion leaders: Pediatricians, bloggers, RDs, 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 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. And, bonus points if you can find kid-friendly recipes where kids can prepare the food with their parents.
- 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 sales.
- Unique: Embrace the unique and promote it. I bought a horned melon for my son 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 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 common ones) to reach kids far and wide. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about merchandising opportunities aligned with our #KidsSpeakFresh campaign to increase access and bring fresh to today’s kids.
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