The Art of Marketing Food



Have you ever thought about what separates fresh produce marketing from the marketing of other grocery items?

Aside from the obvious differences like perishability, varietal variation and seasonality, there is a real gap that exists in how we manifest the marketing, branding and packaging of produce compared to how the grocery industry markets, brands and packages their FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) items.

Take Away Compelling Packaging…And What Is Left?

Imagine walking into a supermarket and noticing that none of the grocery products had any marketing messages on their packaging. For example, imagine…

  • In the cereal aisle, rather than saying Cocoa Puffs with colourful graphics aimed at children, the box was a plain brown cardboard box that simply said Puffed Rice – Chocolate Flavoured.
  • Or in the soft drink aisle, what if a bottle of Coke just said ‘Flavoured and Carbonated Water’.  No red and white logo. No brand.

Something gets lost in the translation doesn’t it?

‘Marketing Speak’ Makes a Product More Desirable

After thinking about this for several days, my curiosity was piqued. I decided to dig a bit further and did an exhaustive search of my own pantry looking for other examples where ‘marketing speak’ created the product. Sure enough, marketing speak abounded on almost all the packaging.

Take Wholemeal Fruit Bars for example.  Beautiful packaging showed luscious, ripe apricots on the box. Looking in detail at the copy, the box said ‘Thick layers of real fruit covered with delicious wholemeal crumble’ and ‘Low cholesterol’ and ‘Softer in foil.’

Doesn’t all this paint a mental picture of taste, health and freshness? I don’t think it would be anywhere as appealing if it said, “Pureed apricots in a wholemeal flour coating”, which is what really is in the pack.

Fresh Produce Needs To Learn From Packaged Food Marketers

So, what is this telling us? As produce marketers and sellers, what can we learn from the grocery aisles? I think we can learn a lot.

First, in grocery, it is not about the product. There is a whole science associated with branding, packaging, marketing and advertising that fresh produce misses. In fresh produce, it is all about the product and this is where a ‘marketing’ gap exists.

Think about it.

When you buy a bag of potatoes in the grocery store, what does it say? Potatoes. When you buy a bag of sleeved spinach in the grocery store, what does it say? Spinach. When you buy a head of broccoli in the grocery store, what does it say? Broccoli.

Is it any wonder then that it is hard work getting consumers to eat more fresh produce? We are selling the steak and not the sizzle. Or as I like to say, “We sell apples, but not the crunch.”

Fresh Produce Owns Taste, Health and Freshness, Yet We Don’t Communicate This On Pack

Go back to the sentence above regarding the wholemeal bars where I said, “Doesn’t this paint a mental picture of taste, health and freshness?” Fresh produce owns taste, health and freshness, yet none of our packaging conveys this!

As the competition for share of stomach increases each year and as ‘packaged foods’ come under more and more scrutiny for their healthfulness, fresh produce has an emerging window of opportunity in which to get their packaging and on-pack message sorted.

Now is the time for fresh fruits and vegetables to ‘own’ the healthy food space and one of the most cost effective ways to own this space is to ensure your produce packaging is working as hard as it can to convey a message that motivates shoppers to buy.

Packaging is an important tool for getting shoppers to buy!