Using ‘Provenance’ to Create a Point of Difference

One of most cost-effective ways to monitor food trends is to observe what packaged food companies are doing. These companies are usually big, have budgets equal to the GNP of a small African nation and they invest in research. Chances are if a packaged food company is featuring a message theme on their packaging – this is a trend you should be paying attention to.

This week, I am loving Wattie’s (New Zealand) “Pick of the Crop” labelling on their canned fruits and vegetables.

There are three things we can learn from their packaging.

1. Notice the frequency and prominence of “NZ Grown”.  A big, bold “NZ Grown” features on the can’s front label and a smaller “NZ Grown” also appears on the back. Whether for domestic or export sales, this prominence tells us how important Wattie’s believes the NZ origin of their fresh produce to be. Globally, NZ has a reputation as being a clean and green source of high quality food. By highlighting the NZ Grown origin, Wattie’s is capitalising on this reputation.

Notice though, this “NZ Grown” branding is more than simply identifying the product’s country of origin. Wattie’s recognises that as a food product, its NZ Grown origin has brand value – it can be used to create a point of difference – hence NZ Grown features prominently on the packaging.

Look at your packaging. Do you tell a country of origin story or do you produce your products in a country where origin can become a marketing story on your packaging?

2. Now, look for the statement, “Hawke’s Bay Peaches” or “Hawkes Bay Beetroot”. This regional identification is called ‘provenance’ branding. Provenance, from the French word provenir, “to come from”, means “the origin, or the source of something”. Provenance is an important and emerging food trend the fresh produce industry cannot ignore.

Wine has used geographical differentiation (called appellation) for a century, but defining foods by their geographical production region is still quite new. However, it is a trend that is gaining traction (as evidenced by Wattie’s cans) and is a packaging trend many fresh produce companies can take advantage of to cost effectively create a point of difference for their product.

Consider the National Restaurant Association’s recently released chef survey, “What’s Hot in 2011.” Among the Top 20 Trends, “farm/estate branded ingredients” placed 10th in the trends list. Restaurants place value on identifying the source of their food…and we know consumers do to.

Over to you – think about the region where you grow your fresh fruits or vegetables. Does the region already have a reputation? If yes, how can you capitalise on it or better identify the region on your packaging?

3. Finally, with provenance or regional branding, you have to create and tell a story of the region – or your production areas uniqueness within the region. Here’s the Hawkes Bay story Wattie’s tells on their can.

“Peaches. Grown under the sun in Hawkes Bay orchards and hand picked, only the finest golden peaches are good enough to be chosen by Wattie’s.”

“Beetroot. Wattie’s beetroot has long been a Kiwi favourite, grown with pride in the rich soil of Hawke’s Bay and harvested at their tender best.”

These stories are short and simple, but they create an impression of care and quality that continues to differentiate Wattie’s Hawkes Bay peaches/beetroot from other canned peaches on the shelf. It’s a cost effective strategy for creating a point of difference.

Your Turn

Do you use provenance in your branding? Do you feel it adds value? If yes, I’d love to hear from you. Simply send me a paragraph describing how you use it and a photo…and we will try to feature it as an example on this website. Email details: