Our Newsletter:
Traceability Insider

August 2014
How Digitization is About to Change the Rules of Your Business

June 2014
Food Waste, We are Fed Up, and a Gladson Case Study

May 2014
Ag Tech and the Power of Catchy Criticism

March 2014
Labels are Soooo 1990, “Thorny” food labeling law

January 2014
Oxymoronic Grocery Predictions and Big Data for the Produce Industry

December 2013
The Gift of Growing – Helping Kids Get Their Hands Dirty!

November 2013
Produce Brand Strategy, Visibility and Transparency

September 2013
A "Lean" Supply Chain, Knowing your Shopper

April 2013
Food Waste, The Rolling Stones, Raley's, and Tanimura & Antle

March 2013
First Look! FDA Releases IFT Traceability Report and Lessons from Europe's Horsemeat Crisis Every Fresh Food Brand Should Learn

January 2013
What Does the Future Hold?

September 2012
"Locale" Produce and Reducing the Impact of Recalls

January 2012
Making the Case for Traceability

September 2011
GTINs – the Devil Is in the Details

August 2011
Turbocharge Mobile Marketing with HarvestMark and QR Codes

May 2011
Traceability Insider

January 2011
It's a New Year. What's the latest on PTI?

May 2010
HarvestMark Makes its VoiceCode™ Solution Open Source

December 2009
IFT Publishes Traceability Report for FDA

Holiday Issue 2009
What Happened at the FDA/USDA Hearing on Food Traceability

September 2009
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

August 2009
How to Avoid Synching Without Trace

July 2009
What's the Value of PTI?

May 2009
Case-Level and Item-Level Traceability-What You Need to Know

April 2009
Still Have Questions about PTI? Don't Worry, You're Not Alone

March 2009
PTI, GS1, GTIN, GLN? HarvestMark's Got the FAQs

January 2009
The First PTI Milestone is Around the Corner

December 2008
A Pivotal Year for Food Safety

November 2008
FDA Solicits Public Comment on Enhanced Produce Traceability

October 2008
Produce Traceability Initiative Action Plan Released

September 2008
How Will Greater Transparency Enhance Your Business?

Español - 01 2012
Elaborando el Caso para Trazabilidad

Español - 03 2012
La Más Reciente Norma de la FDA es Efectiva Inmediatamente. ¿Debería Usted Estar Preocupado?

August 2013
How Walmart Could Implement PTI, Crowdsourced Shopper Insights

June 2010
How to Interpret the PTI announcement of "Goal Unchanged, Milestones Adjusted"

December 2010
An Update on the PTI

July 2010
Produce Traceability in Foodservice

February 2010
What's Going on with the PTI

March 2010
Consumer Attitudes to Traceability

August 2010
HarvestMark Launches Consumer Campaign in Portland, OR

March 2011
Have you heard of the PLU DataBar Initiative?

November 2011
Traceability? There’s an App for That

December 2012
It’s all new. Introducing HarvestMark 2013.

March 2012
The FDA's Latest Ruling is Effective Immediately. Should You be Worried?

June 2012
Do QR Codes REALLY Drive Shopper Engagement?

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November 2013: Produce Brand Strategy, Visibility and Transparency

All for One, or One for All? Picking a Brand Strategy in Produce

It’s something of a truism in the business that it’s too hard to create a consumer brand in produce.  Shoppers favorite brand of banana is “yellow”, and so forth. Most produce companies focus instead on creating trade brands.   However, a successful consumer brand drives preference and can command a premium … and results in significant value.  McDonald’s brand name, for example, is valued at $42bn – about 70% of its shareholder value.

So how do you decide what’s right for your business?  At an abstract level, there are three consumer brand strategies: industry-wide, category, or company specific.

Since 1991, the Produce for Better Health foundation has promoted the “5 a Day for Better Health” and, since 2007, “More Matters,” campaigns to drive consumption industry-wide. But with an annual budget of only $3M, the foundation is outgunned by CPG marketers. The PMA recently announced a partnership with the Children’s Television Workshop to license several of the Sesame Street Muppet characters royalty free to the produce industry (details are still to be worked out). Research has shown that children may not only choose food preferentially with characters they recognize … but they’ll actually say they taste better (than identical items without the character). This industry-wide approach could increase overall produce consumption, taking dollars away from less healthy food purchases. But Muppets aren’t right for all produce – and may appeal primarily to the pre-K set.

Everyone knows produce is good for them, and the evidence supporting the benefit is undisputable  – yet only 5% of American’s under 50 are eating the recommended amount of veggies (despite the commendable efforts of PBH).  This week’s New York Times magazine challenged an ad agency to come up with a conceptual marketing strategy to drive growth in the broccoli category. Rather than marketing on health benefits, produce needs to “get people to behave in a healthful way without knowing it”, as the PMA’s Bryan Silbermann is quoted as saying in the article. The agency mocked up an edgy, web-friendly broccoli campaign that would cost $3-7M to execute … too much for a single grower/shipper, but not unreasonable for a commodity marketing association.

A company-specific brand emphasizes the unique benefits of a particular company’s product.  Those benefits need to be discernable by the shopper and – most importantly – consistent. In a perishable category, a trusted brand reduces risk for the shopper – especially when the quality attributes are hard to observe on the shelf (e.g. flavor, shelf life).  Research has found that shoppers were willing to pay a 9% premium for branded produce, when it signaled quality.  “Cuties” are a great example of successful company-specific marketing – combining a consistent product experience with a customer benefit (sweet, easy to peel, ‘kid sized’) – and a hefty marketing budget.

Whether you are creating a company-specific brand, a category brand, or thinking about taking advantage of an industry-wide brand strategy, there are three important considerations:

1. Understand your differentiating attributes and their observability on the shelf. Mobile research tools now make this quick and cost-effective.

2. Communicate effectively. Don’t just tell people your product is good for them – explain how they can enjoy your product in a way that challenges their preconceived ideas.  A roasted broccoli recipe could get someone to try it again, if their memory was of a tasteless, boiled mush.  On-pack mobile engagement creates a cost-effective way to share recipes, farm stories, nutrition information, and much more, and track engagement.

3. Ensure consistency. A bad experience of quality or freshness on the shelf can undo the benefits of a well-executed marketing campaign.  Growers, shippers and retailers now have effective tools to monitor and manage supply chain performance, and identify root causes of problems fast.

Drop us a line, and chat to our experts on shopper research, engagement, and supply chain quality management.


Visibility and Transparency: Two sides of the same coin

“They use everything about the hog except the squeal.” This is a line from Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book, “The Jungle”. The novel caused uproar over food safety and opaqueness of business practices in the meat packing industry. It led to the establishment of the FDA. Today, more than 100 years later, visibility and transparency continue to be priorities for consumers.

Product Mindset Study

Based on the UL product mindset study, a global independent safety science company, environment, health impact, transparency, outsourcing, traceability and ethical sourcing are some of the rising priorities among the minds of consumers.

Processed foods form 70% of what Americans eat. (“What are you doing about the 70%?“) Recent events about food safety and ingredient integrity have made the consumers’ demands for transparency louder. Brands need to respond in a comprehensive manner to allay consumer concerns. Even though most manufacturers (80%) believe that supply chain visibility is important, 42% of consumers believe that manufacturers do not provide sufficient transparency into their processes and ingredients.

What is the difference between visibility and transparency?

Visibility: Information that brands have about the ingredients, processes, sources and practices used to bring the product to consumers. This includes complete supply chain visibility including traceability for the entire supply chain.

Transparency: Information that brands share with their consumers about the ingredients, processes, sources and practices used to bring the product to the consumer.

Opportunity for brands

This is an area of concern for large established brands and an opportunity for younger, nimble brands to differentiate from the competition. Established brands have scale and distribution advantages that some of the newer brands do not. New brands can try to capitalize on some of the rising priorities listed in the product study like the environment, health impact, transparency, outsourcing, traceability and ethical sourcing.

Key Challenges

The depth and complexity of food supply chains is the key challenge in getting visibility. Brands have to provide a level of transparency that their consumers expect. The solution has to be economical and has to make business sense for the supply chain participants.

Food brands that will have complete supply chain visibility and provide transparency to a more informed consumer will win in the future.