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Healthy Eats in a Season of Sweets: Produce Merchandising Tips for the Holidays
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Healthy Eats in a Season of Sweets: Produce Merchandising Tips for the Holidays

October 25, 2018

This time of year, the abundance of sweet treats within kids’ reach can be downright frightening. Between Halloween and the New Year, sugary snacks and treats lurk everywhere, tempting all of us to over-indulge in those less-than-nutritious items. So how can we help kids—and adults—build healthier eating habits during this treat-focused season?

5 produce merchandising tips to encourage healthy eating

Healthy eating starts in the produce aisle. Here are five ways you can inspire healthy habits and help consumers and their families eat a balanced diet this year.

1. Remind consumers to start their days the healthy way.

Set up displays of produce-focused breakfast and snacking ideas to encourage your shoppers to begin the day on a healthy note. There are plenty of grab-and-go fruit options that make healthy eating easier—even for the busiest consumers. Apples, grapes, oranges, and berries are all great options that deliver the perfect blend of sweetness, nutrition, and convenience. Many fruits also pair well with oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, and nuts to make delicious, convenient, healthy breakfasts. For consumers who prefer savory flavors, there are plenty of vegetable-based breakfast ideas to share as well: sweet potato hash with bell peppers and onion; egg scrambles with broccoli, greens, and tomatoes; and breakfast pizza, burritos, and sandwiches loaded with fresh veggies.

2. Conjure the holiday spirit in your produce department.

While it’s important to stay stocked on the staple items your shoppers expect, it’s also valuable to create an extra layer of excitement for seasonal produce like pumpkins, gourds, squash, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and greens. Use seasonal produce with eye-catching display elements—think hay bales, crates, and bushel baskets. In addition to contributing a festive flair to your store, these displays can draw in shoppers and inspire impulse purchases.

3. Make choosing fresh produce an easy choice.

Trends come and go, but healthy, convenient foods are always important—especially during the busy holiday season. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables are great options for consumers who are short on time but don’t want to sacrifice nutrition, whether they need something to round out their lunch or want to contribute to a holiday gathering.

4. Cross-merchandise healthy and sweet items.

Help your shoppers envision a more balanced seasonal spread by pairing produce with complementary ingredients: apples and caramel or nut butter; bananas, carrots, or zucchini with the necessary components to bake a homemade loaf; or a rainbow of fresh produce items that can be blended and frozen into popsicles, shakes, or frozen yogurt bites.

5. Highlight healthy, simple swap-out ideas.

Replacing high carb, high fat, or empty calorie ingredients with fresh produce is another great way for consumers to get more nutrition during this season of treats. Use signage and merchandising groupings to inspire healthier food swaps:

  • Stay cool with frozen fruit—like grapes and watermelon—instead of popsicles. Or, blend a few frozen bananas until they take on the consistency of soft serve.
  • Top pancakes, waffles, or French toast with fresh-cut fruit instead of a slathering of sugary syrup.
  • Spiralized vegetables (think spaghetti squash, zucchini, or sweet potatoes) are a great replacement for pasta.
  • Craving something crunchy? Replace crackers with thin slices of apple. Radishes and jicama pair well with guacamole. Choose kale chips over traditional chips.
  • Remember the power of cauliflower: it’s a seamless substitute for rice, can be transformed into pizza crust, and can also be used to make Buffalo cauliflower bites.

Final thoughts

There’s no need to trick kids and families into eating healthy. By simply offering up healthy suggestions and produce-centric snack and meal ideas, we can help create a more balanced approach for the holiday season—and beyond.

Explore more fresh ideas for your produce department. Connect with one of our fresh experts to learn about the ways Robinson Fresh can help your business grow.

Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson - Director of Marketing, Robinson Fresh

New to Robinson Fresh but not to marketing food, Chad Johnson is the director of marketing for Robinson Fresh. He was previously at General Mills for almost 20 years, most recently as the Business Unit Director. He is an experienced marketer and general manager with a long track record of delivering superior performance. His experience is in leading innovation, brand expansion and marketing campaigns driving growth on businesses including Cheerios, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Progresso, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, and Larabar. As a seasoned CPG professional, he has led large cross functional teams, acquiring, integrating and developing new business and working directly with retail partners to identify growth opportunities and deliver results. His last role at General Mills oversaw the largest business units responsible for revenues exceeding $1.5B.
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