Viewpoints

Retailers, Shoppers Open Arms to Produce

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Summer harvest is here. And retailers and shoppers are equally excited about the bounty of fruits and vegetables.

Somehow, as the country has engaged in heated discussion about nutrition and fighting obesity over the past few years, the unthinkable has happened. Produce has become cool. It might be the only food group that nutritionists and doctors agree is inarguably good to consume. As a result, fruits and vegetables have become a symbol for health.

Just look at Michael Pollan’s 2009 book “In Defense of Food.” The only illustration on the cover is lettuce greens bound by a rubber band that says: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Whether or not consumers always live up to this ideal, the desire to eat more plants seems to have rubbed off. Consumers seem to be experimenting more with fruits and veggies. Just among my friends and family, I’ve noticed green breakfast smoothies replacing what used to be a scone or bagel in the morning.

Consumers are the new fruit and vegetable champions, and retailers have been working to encourage them.

Take Wegmans’ Grilled Veggies Party on June 22. Here Wegmans planned to have customers sample vegetables, learn how to grill recipes, receive giveaways, and participate in a kids’ scavenger hunt.

In Portland, Ore., Local Choice Produce Market actually had produce enthusiasts approach them.


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As SN’s Liz Webber reported earlier this month, a local sketching club started appearing in Local Choice to sketch in the produce department. Instead of chasing the group off, the retailer embraced the relationship, even auctioning off sketches for a school fund-raiser. There are worse things for a grocery store than to have a group of people intently starting at your produce for an extended amount of time.

On the digital side, Marsh Supermarkets has been keeping fruits and vegetables top of mind on its Facebook page. The retailer posts photos of a lesser known produce item and asks shoppers to name it and how they would cook with it. In the comments, shoppers then exchange opinions and increase awareness about the fruits and veggies. Recently, Marsh featured turnips, parsnips and papaya this way.

Whether with a playful social media post or in-store event, retailers are finding unconventional ways to foster produce excitement.

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Contributors

David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Jon Springer

Jon Springer has been writing about food, food retailers and food retailing for more than 10 years, and is in his second tour of duty with Supermarket News. His prior experience includes covering the...
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