Helping Parents And Kids To Crave Healthy Produce

Originally printed in the May 2018 issue of Produce Business.

Mark CrouserOverwhelmed by on-the-go schedules, it is increasingly difficult for parents to commit to healthier eating. Motivated to set a good example for their kids by living a healthy lifestyle, most parents think they must choose between family and health. And so, they feel guilty, no matter what they choose.

Busy schedules are not the only obstacle to parents successfully reaching their family and wellness goals. Our SHS FoodThink research uncovers two other significant barriers, noting, “Moms and dads are also more likely to identify a lack of cooking know-how and the taste of healthy foods as additional barriers to healthy eating.”

So how does the industry make produce a time-saving solution that parents will crave?

Tip 1: Produce Convenience — Our research also shows parents long for convenience but don’t want their meals to taste like they took the easy way out. While the most convenient option may be eating at a restaurant, 75 percent of parents say they like products that make it easier to prepare meals at home. That’s why they’re reaching for ready-to-eat or preassembled meals and sides. These time-savers help parents catch a break in the kitchen and get tasty meals on the table quickly.

For produce, that convenience can be in the form of precut fruits and vegetables. In fact, 43 percent of parents use precut produce at least once a week when preparing a meal, making them more likely to do so than the average consumer. Those findings demonstrate the opportunity for the industry to engage parents in marketing that offers produce as a solution for their busy lifestyles while creatively satisfying their hunger for convenience.

To help parents simplify mealtime, the industry can work with retailers to promote grocery endcaps or a special deli case with ready-made kits of meal ingredients that include prepared produce and a meal recipe. That way, parents can visit their favorite retailer, grab a complete meal solution and then easily prepare it at home. This will create the convenience they’re looking for, ensure their produce will be flavorful and help overcome their lack of know-how in the kitchen.

To help parents simplify mealtime, the industry can work with retailers to promote grocery endcaps or a special deli case with ready-made kits of meal ingredients that include prepared produce and a meal recipe.

Tip 2: Produce As A Family — Parents are striving to both eat healthier and spend more time with their family. Appeal to them by partnering with retail nutritionists to host in-store tastings and express cooking classes featuring produce. Focusing on cooking as a fun activity will engage families with new ingredients, while building food preparation skills for parents and kids. Further, it encourages families — no matter who does the cooking — to incorporate fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables into tasty dishes they will love.

These sessions can also be recorded and shared through retail social channels to be viewed at a time convenient for families that can’t attend in person. By showcasing its positive reception with families on-site and ease of preparation, produce is viewed as a go-to resource for taste, convenience and health.

Recipe ideas can then be merchandised with the product and online, highlighting the ease of preparing a home-cooked meal. By emphasizing produce as inspiration for cooking together, the industry can effectively balance parents’ desire for health and more time with their families.

Tip 3: Produce Indulgence — Everybody knows fruits and vegetables have health benefits. Unfortunately, foods identified as “healthy” may actually be perceived as unappealing. In fact, our research shows 36 percent of parents and 45 percent of dads say, “Most healthy foods don’t taste very good.” Do they also know produce can be indulgent? By focusing on the flavorful attributes, parents don’t have to sacrifice the tastes they desire in order to provide healthy foods for their families.

When shoppers are looking for crowd-pleasing game day snacks or kid-friendly after-school treats, entice them with ideas for decadent sweet potato chips or homemade fruit salsa and cinnamon crisps. By addressing their need for indulgence, parents are provided satisfying and flavorful choices that can ease their struggle.

Parents perceive a lack of time, know-how and taste as barriers to eating healthier. In response, the industry has the opportunity to effectively remove these barriers by focusing marketing efforts on produce providing the convenience parents need, the family time they want and the indulgence they don’t know produce offers. In doing so, the industry will position fruits and vegetables as a solution parents will crave.

Mark Crouser is the associate director of reputation management at Sullivan Higdon & Sink. Sullivan Higdon & Sink is a full-service advertising and marketing agency focused on building brands across the food value chain. With offices in Wichita, KS, and Kansas City, MO, SHS specializes in development of creative, digital, social media content, public relations, influencer engagement, experiential and email marketing.