Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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90 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017 Produce Fresh Food Millennial Moms Health-conscious Millennials are driving growth in pro- duce-based snacking. "Mil- lennials are really important to brands and retailers, as they are now the largest adult demographic, and also make up 90 percent of new moms," notes Nuevo-Celeste. Sun Pacific's marketing campaign for Cuties this season targets Millennial moms and their kids. e campaign focuses on digital channels where these mothers and their children engage. e company has updated Cuties' Lil' Zipper character for animated TV spots, created a video content series, and enhanced packaging and in- store merchandising design. e launch of a Cuties Snapchat lens, which featured Lil' Zipper, saw nearly 70 million brand exposures in just 24 hours, more than four times Snapchat's benchmark. Encouraging kids and their families to try new fruits is another focus for Sun Pacific, which recently introduced Mighties Kiwi. e brand features a kid-friendly character, along with simple instructions on how to cut, scoop and eat a kiwi. Select packages offer the added convenience of a spife (spoon/knife combo). Young Bucks With industry branding efforts such as the "Sesame Street" eat brighter! campaign forged by Sesame Workshop and the Produce Market- ing Association in 2013, and the cause marketing campaigns of organizations like Orlando, Fla.- based Produce for Kids, which has helped families and children eat healthfully and give back since 2002, youngsters are an increasingly important focus of the produce industry. ey also represent a tremendous market for growth in produce and produce-based snacks. "Kids wield over $1.5 trillion dollars in purchasing influence over their parents and ap- proximately 40 percent of all U.S. households have kids," notes Sarah Cottrill, VP of sales and marketing for Richland Center, Wis.-based apple grower and processor Richland Hills Farms. "When you break that down even further, research shows us that parents of kids actually eat healthier and make healthier snacking decisions to help their kids develop healthy habits early in life," she adds. is past fall, Richland Hills, which had been primarily a foodservice supplier, rolled out branded packaging for its apple slices in Wisconsin and other Midwest states. "We grow our apples here, and it allows us to take advantage of less food miles and creating a direct connection with our consumers," explains Cottrill. Richland Hills offers seasonal favorites like Honeycrisp apple slices, and plans to add sliced pears and grapes to its product mix in the com- ing years. e company is currently working on planting commercial volumes of both fruits so it can continue to offer a local product. "e produce industry has a huge role to play in snacking trends when it comes to kids," asserts Nuevo-Celeste, of Sun Pacific, which is partnering with McDonald's for the third year to offer Cuties in Happy Meals and as an à la carte option. "It's really important that the produce industry look at how to make fruits and veggies even more appealing to kids — especially as snacks, since kids tend to need and want to eat between meals," she says. "It's important for the success of our business, but it's also the right thing to do to help ensure the health of future generations." Packaging that attracts the attention of kids and their parents is critical to success in the produce-based snack category. Sunkist offers kid- friendly fruit in fun, colorful packaging through its Lil Snappers product line, a partnership with Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt. "We offer the varieties that kids love — sweet seedless mandarins, tangy Minneola tangelos, vibrantly sweet Cara Caras, and classic Navel and Valencia oranges as part of this brand,"notes Wick- ham. Sunkist and Stemilt also offer a pink bag that combines Pink Lady apples and Cara Cara oranges. Crunchy Cravings Produce-based snack suppliers are now com- peting with salty snacks and sweet treats for a share of snack time in America. Nick Desai, of fruit and vegetable-focused Snack it Forward and World Peas, notes that while consumers say they want to eat healthier, "Lays and Doritos are growing at 5 percent a year." Los Angeles-based Snack it Forward, which has licensed the Sunkist mark for its trail mixes since 2013, is enticing consumers to get more produce in their diets with better-for-you snacks that offer the experience and crunch of traditional chips. e company recently introduced Sunkist True Fruit Clusters in four varieties. e Clusters, which start shipping this month, represent "a new take on the whole freeze-dried world," says Desai. All signs point to produce snacking continuing to grow as consumers continue to lead busy, on- the-go lives, but are also more health- conscious." —Victoria Nuevo-Celeste, Sun Pacific

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