Branding Produce or What’s In A Name

This Happy Baby branding ticks all the right branding and packaging messages.

It is always interesting to track fresh produce brand conversations online.

As a shopper driven marketer, I like the insight it gives into the shopper mindset. I recently came across this post on

Branding Vegetables!

There is huge opportunity in the vegetable category for branding. Most fruits and vegetables are sold without brand names. A few exceptions are Chiquita and Dole. When a person thinks of ‘banana’ they probably think if ‘Chiquita’, a brand almost synonymous with the fruit. But why is that not the case for apples? We know types of apples – Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith – but not brands. What if, through R&D, a company developed a new, sweeter, broccoli? Or carrots that turned blue? Could these new hybrid vegetables be branded? I ask because a branded vegetable would be one that put itself in front of kids more than other veg. And, who knows, the branding money behind it might get kids to eat more of it.

Branding in produce has always been a tricky subject, raising questions like: Is branding important in fresh produce? Can a brand influence a shopper to buy?

I was recently going back through some produce branding columns I had written a few years ago and came across one I thought I would share, because it is quite insightful.

“‘Fresh Trends 2000, A Profile of the American Fresh Produce Consumer’ recently arrived on my desk. This survey, conducted annually by The Packer (a weekly produce newspaper), is a great read if you track overseas fresh produce consumption trends. In this year’s survey, one of the many topics that caught my eye was the impact of ‘brands’ in the produce department.

“In the Fresh Trends survey, approximately 1/3 of consumers said they look for specific fresh produce brands when shopping. On an unprompted basis, only 33 percent of consumers noted one or more valid fresh produce brand names they seek out and buy when available.

“Who leads in the American produce brand sweepstakes? Dole leads in brand awareness with 21 percent of consumers saying they seek the Dole brand. 12 percent look for Chiquita. 6 percent look for Sunkist and 4 percent look for Del Monte.

“Fresh Trends summarizes their brand findings by stating, “The bottom line is that consumers don’t differentiate much between branded and non-branded fresh produce. With the exception of price, the vast majority say that branded fresh produce and non-branded fresh produce are about the same on nutritional value, storage life, taste/flavour, safety, overall value and appearance.”

In 2013, Is A Fresh Produce Brand Important?

There is no doubt produce branding is going through a transition.

Retail branded produce is a dominant trend as is PVR’s and trademark/patented plant breeding. The move towards more pre-packaged, value-added convenience produce is changing the branding landscape as produce moves out of being an interactive purchase experience and gets closer to packaged food marketing.

So there is a huge movement towards more branded produce…but I believe something is getting lost in the translation.

In the move towards branding fresh produce, what is missing is being shopper focused.

Retail branded produce is about ego and shelf space and profits – it is not about the shopper. PVR and patented breeding branding is all about the end product, not how the end product benefits the shopper.

So yes, branding is important, but in produce, we’ve got the philosophy wrong.

My theory is not so much the ‘brand’ itself that is important. What is important is does that brand talk to the shopper? Does it engage her heart or her mind? Does it get her to pause and consider the product? If no, then in the ultra-competitive battle for share of stomach, the brand has failed.

Take for example this Happy Baby brand of frozen baby food cubes. This is a brand that works. It touches the heart and mind of the shopper and creates an emotive connection and a desired state.

In my mind, this is the future for produce branding. Engage the shopper’s heart/mind and make the on-pack message about the benefits they will receive, then sit back and watch shoppers buy.

How does your fresh produce brand compare to this?