A popular feature of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) Annual Convention and Trade Show is the New Product Showcase. One of the fastest growing categories is the Freggie™ Approved award. Freggie is the mascot for the CPMA children’s program and is an easily recognizable character who reminds children to choose fresh fruits and veggies.
Entrants in the Freggie Approved category feature new products or innovations designed to appeal to a younger audience and consumer. The 2017 winner in this category was Mucci Farms for its new Veggies to Go™ program. These adorable snack packs contain bite-sized, flavor-filled cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers in fun packaging.
Veggies to Go makes it easy for kids and parents to make a healthy snack choice. The convenient package is easily-portable, and the sweet vegetables appeal to taste buds of any age.
Emily Murracas, Marketing Manager, Mucci Farms
“Veggies to Go is a handy snack pack that is conveniently-sized for kids and pre-portioned for parents. We created Veggies To Go with both kids and parents in mind. We know that it can be tough to convince children to eat healthy foods, so we thought creating a kid-sized package with kid-friendly graphics would really help parents win both ways. Kids eat healthy, and it’s easier to get them to do so.”
AN IMPORTANT DEMOGRAPHIC
Getting children to try new fruits and veggies ultimately means attracting the attention of their parents. Parents can attest to the “pester power” of kids and the extent to which they influence purchasing decisions for the household. While the level of influence may vary depending on the child’s age, no parent wants to do battle over food choices, so attracting a child’s attention in the produce category may make it easier for parents to choose healthier options with the “permission” of their child. Marketers who make it easy for both parent and child to agree on a particular item will surely have a hit on their hands.
The use of popular characters and fun packaging are two of the tactics used by produce sellers. Pure Flavor® created their Mini Munchies line with bite-sized veggies and monster packaging and the Dole Food Company features a line of salads specially branded with Disney characters.
Chris Veillon, Chief Marketing Officer, Pure Flavor
“Our Mini Munchies Snack Sized Veggies aim to promote a healthy, active lifestyle to both children and their parents alike. This flavorful and healthy snack will help the Mini Munchies program stand out, over and above competing products in the market and help increase fresh produce consumption. The perfect healthy snack combination makes it easy for a grab-and-go snack for kids (and adults!) of all ages.”
Fresh-cut fruits are a great new option for snacking on-the-go, and provide healthy alternatives to traditional individually-packaged snack items. Fresh Advancements packages apple slices in different varieties that are a convenient and shareable snack for any occasion. Windset Farms’ DUET Snack Pack features a resealable package which keeps the cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes fresh and ready from one snacking occasion to the next. Kids may go for the flavor, but parents can appreciate the nutritional value and the convenience of these snacks.
John Newell, Chief Operating Officer, Windset Farms
“At Windset Farms we recognize the importance of building healthy eating habits at an early age! From supporting local school nutrition programs to donating to food banks, we do our best to provide and nourish the community with sustainable and nutritious produce. For this reason, we have introduced our Snack Pack options, including DUET and TRIO, that combine snackable tomatoes, cucumbers, and mini peppers, creating the ultimate on-the-go snack. Incredibly addictive and tiny in size, these snack packs are a perfect alternative to processed foods. An instant hit with both kids and adults!”
THROUGH A CHILD'S EYES
The world looks much different from three feet off the ground or from the seat of a shopping cart, so merchandising produce to appeal to children is part of the solution. Displays which are visible as a child walks through the store are likely to catch their eye. As more retailers include candy-free checkout aisles and provide fresh produce substitutions, there is an opportunity to expose kids to these choices more often.
Not always a bad thing, peer pressure can lead to children trying new fruits and veggies if they are in a comfortable environment and their friends are part of the adventure! Classrooms, daycares, camps, and community events are all places where children may be exposed to a new produce item or variety. Having healthy options available at social events provides children with an opportunity to experiment with new tastes at the same time as their peers. Feeling like they are a part of the action can be a positive thing when it comes to making healthy choices.
IF AT FIRST, YOU DON'T SUCCEED...
Research has repeatedly shown that some flavors and textures are an acquired taste, and children may need to try a new flavor several times before it becomes a regular part of their diets. Offering multiple opportunities to try new produce is an important practice for parents and caregivers to continue. Produce companies recognize this challenge and are constantly adding new flavors, colors, packaging, and ideas to appeal to kids. Houweling’s yellow cherry tomatoes are one example of a flavorful twist to a fruit that children know well. The bright yellow color and sweet flavor make it easy for kids to expand their “tomato repertoire.”
David Bell, Chief Marketing Officer, Houweling’s
“At Houweling’s we’ve developed our premium snacking tomato line with consistency and quality in mind, showcasing bespoke varietals that deliver exceptional flavor. Nothing makes a parent happier than their child asking for a cherry tomato to snack on. We hear from parents often, telling stories of their kids eating the entire package on the drive home from the store, or having to store the tomatoes on a high shelf because their kids are stealing them before dinner. It tells me that if we put great tasting, nutritious options in front of kids, they will be eating healthier.”
Getting children to love healthy eating may be a challenge, but it’s one that the entire produce industry strongly embraces. The ever expanding array of varieties and marketing strategies offers plenty of choices to time-starved, busy families. By making healthy choices fun and convenient, it has never been easier to offer children lots of fruit and vegetables options.