The Power of Influencer Engagement

Originally printed in the May 2021 issue of Produce Business.

Consumers increasingly trust a range of influencers to inform their food and lifestyle choices — from chefs and foodie bloggers to life coaches, trainers and registered dietitians. Consider: Research shows consumers trust influencers significantly more than friends or family when making purchase decisions (including ones related to food!), at a rate of 2 to 1. And consumers have turned to influencers even more during the pandemic, as their use of social media (where they typically interact with influencers) is up 83 percent since mid-March 2020.

Among consumers, Millennials and Gen Z are especially looking to influencers each day to inform what they eat, plugging into culinary and lifestyle advice shared on Instagram, via YouTube tutorials and TikTok tricks. And, importantly, these consumers are influencers themselves — sharing success stories and ideas with friends, family and colleagues — making them even more essential to connect with in order to boost fruit and vegetable consumption.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) has always recognized the power and credibility of partnering with influencers to reach consumers — particularly Millennials and Gen Z — and given influencers’ growing reach, PBH is significantly expanding its elite Have A Plant Ambassador Network to connect with consumers at three critical points of influence: retail, culinary & foodservice, and digital & social media communications. Formerly known as the PBH Fruit and Vegetable Ambassadors in Action (FVAA), this group is now quadrupled in size to connect with even more consumers than ever before.

Optimizing the KNOW-FEEL-DO Behavioral Framework, PBH is engaging with these influencers in creatively compelling ways — all focused on emotion-based, innovative solutions to make the DOing part of fruit and vegetable consumption easy and enjoyable! The new Have A Plant Ambassador Network features influencers who are all passionate about advancing and advocating for PBH’s mission: that eating and enjoying more fruits and vegetables, in all of their glorious forms, is the single most important action people can take for happier, healthier lives.

The influencers will support a variety of efforts, including: content throughout, including the Expert Advice page; expertise during PBH’s new Have A Plant Cook Alongs; surround-sound social content-sharing via Facebook lives, Instagram reels and other inspiring posts; and tailored partnerships with PBH members — from co-hosting virtual webinars to generating top-tier media placements and supporting retail promotions.

Inspiring More Millennial and Gen Z Consumers To Be/Become Fruit and Veggie Lovers

No other group is partnering with such a wide range of influencers to inform people wherever they make fruit and vegetable decisions: at point-of-sale (retail), point-of-flavor (culinary & foodservice) and point-of-inspiration (digital & social media communications). To reflect all points of influence, the new Have A Plant Ambassador Network features leaders who:

  • Engage with millions of shoppers in more than 10,000 supermarkets and online to deliver fruit & veggie inspiration nationwide, at retailers including Albertson’s, Aldi, Coburns, Giant Food, Hannaford, H-E-B, Hy-Vee, Kroger, Loblaws, Natural Grocers, Publix, Raley’s, ShopRite and Trader Joe’s.
  • Are at the forefront of flavor and create meaningful culinary experiences with fruits and vegetables at high-profile organizations and establishments, including: Bloomin’ Brands, Compass Group, Cisco, Datassential, Google Food, Michigan State University, Taco Bell, The Culinary Institute of America, University of Massachusetts, and Yale Hospitality, to name a few.
  • Engage online with Millennials and Gen Z every day, offering creative and exciting fruit and vegetable ideas, such as: Joan Salge Blake, Beau Coffron, Andrew Dole, Abbie Gellman, Cara Harbstreet, Kelly Jones, Nicole Rodriguez, Kelli Shallal, Lori Taylor, and Manuel Villacorta, among many more.

Combined, this group reaches hundreds of thousands of Millennials and Gen Z consumers each day. With this unprecedented reach, PBH uniquely delivers valuable influencer partnerships to all members of the fruit and vegetable supply chain and is poised to significantly extend the far-reaching impact of its award-winning Have A Plant Movement, which launched just two years ago. Importantly, PBH is committed to building strong relationships with these influencers to ensure they find mutual value and satisfaction in supporting PBH and the produce industry to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and, in turn, help improve public health.

Connecting with Millennials and Gen Z in strategic, meaningful ways has never been more important to help shift their behaviors and help them find more lasting love for fruits and vegetables — and engaging in credible influencer relationships is key to success. Take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to connect with consumers via the influencers they trust and turn to for fruit and vegetables solutions by downloading PBH’s newly released 2021 Member Engagement Prospectus at!