As we walked across the vast tradeshow floor in Orlando this past weekend, one thing was clear: fresh produce brands are stepping up their marketing game, and the industry as a whole is benefitting! BUT, with powerful and inspiring messages about where our marketing and branding could be from the likes of Bryan Silbermann, Cathy Burns and Johnny Cupcakes, it’s clear we still have a lot of work to do. But after this year’s expo, we’re feeling more confident than ever in taking on the challenge!
If you’re a produce marketer who strives to create a brand that captures your consumers’ attention and delivers valuable solutions to your customers, let these examples of marketing excellence that blew us away at PMA Fresh Summit inspire your 2017 initiatives.
Brands Create Experiences on the Show Floor
Each year, Fresh Summit’s growth requires exhibiting brands and companies to figure out ways to stand out on the show floor. This year, we were delighted by companies that went above and beyond to create an interactive, out-of-the-box experience for those who came by their booth. These are just a few brands that blew us away with their innovative tradeshow marketing this year:
Avocados from Mexico and the “AvoMatic”
Avocados from Mexico showcased their “AvoMatic” robotic ordering system that allowed attendees to customize their avocado-centric meals with the help of a friendly, quirky digital “chef.” Not only did this delight show attendees (and wrap a line around the booth), it created a buzz about the ways that technology is influencing the kitchen of today and the way that we interact with our food. Users were prompted to share their creations on social media for a chance to win $500, turning their in-booth marketing into a full-fledged digital promotion.
Zespri’s Smoothie Bike
The kiwi company delighted booth visitors with the opportunity to pedal on a stationary bike to create their own delicious banana and kiwi smoothie. And when traffic failed to enter the booth voluntarily to ride, the animated folks in the booth pointed to and called out passersby (like Allison here!) in a playful way that helped to humanize the equally cheerful and colorful brand.
Ready Pac’s American Icons
To add a truly interactive dimension to their Freedom to Eat Healthier campaign, Ready Pac brought American historical figures to life. Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Betsy Ross all made appearances on the show floor ready to talk, take pictures, and rally behind Ready Pac’s petition for the freedom to eat healthier. These actors undoubtedly gave tradeshow goers a reason to remember Ready Pac – we know Marci enjoyed getting to know them!
Idaho Potatoes’ Great Idaho Potato Fair Booth
Known for their ever-engaging presence on the Fresh Summit show floor, this year Idaho Potatoes continued their tradition with a state fair themed booth, complete with funky mirrors and games. Attendees lined up for a chance to toss a potato bag or spin the wheel for a chance to win a prize.
Caraveo Papayas’ Drumline
This tropical fruit distributor wanted to make some noise in Orlando – and they succeeded! When the sounds of a drumline filled the exhibit halls, attendees flocked to the center aisle to catch a glimpse, following the percussionists as they marched around the hall and eventually lined up outside.
The old saying goes that “there’s no such thing as a new idea”, yet we are still impressed by outside-the-booth examples which prove that originality is achievable. Case in point: Juice brand, Zola, brought beats to their booth with a live DJ who spun records to audibly emulate the experience of drinking their tropical concoctions.
Triple H Showcases “Virtual Farms”
Virtual reality is an exciting and trending technology that is slowly entering the mainstream, so Triple H took advantage by delivering a virtual tour of their fields and greenhouses. Prospective buyers and passersby (like Laura here!) could take a tour of their home without even leaving the booth, creating a great sales opportunity for the company. Imagine the possibilities this technology could provide to consumers who want to connect with your brand and learn where their food comes from!
Brands Leading with Product Innovation
From new and improved flavors to on-trend product convenience, the following brands truly shined in this area and will keep consumers coming back for more.
SUNSET®’s Dill it Yourself Pickle Kit and Minzano® Tomatoes Pasta Kit
SUNSET®/Mastronardi continues to innovate by turning their products into experiences for their consumer. For consumers who love the experience of cooking at home but also seek convenience, SUNSET® packaged Minzano tomatoes with all the ingredients for a delicious pasta night at home. This fresh, great-tasting product was designed with the help of celebrity chef Roger Mooking. In addition, the new Dill it Yourself Pickle kit won a PMA Impact Award. This product creates an easy, DIY experience for consumers with all the ingredients for 24-hour freshly-made pickles packed in a resealable container.
Crazy Go Nuts
When it comes to product innovation, this company makes us “go nuts!” Not only did we fall in love with the branding and on-trend packaging, but the wide variety of flavored walnuts and walnut butters take innovative flavors to a whole new level. Orange, banana, coconut, buffalo, garlic parmesan – the list goes on and on. As for the most unique and our absolute favorite flavors, chocolate espresso and oatmeal cookie take the cake!
Veggie Noodle Co.
Zoodles, spirals, ribbons – you’re probably well aware of the veggie noodle trend. It’s easily one of the most creative classic cooking alternatives and continues to grow in popularity, especially with low-carb and gluten-free diets at center stage. Veggie Noodle Co. created products that take what is easily a 6-step, 25 minute process and cuts the prep time in half. With four delicious varieties, including zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potato and beet spirals, this company is simplifying this nutritious alternative and saving consumers valuable time.
U Gottabee Nutz
We first fell in love with this snacking brand last spring, at the 2016 Viva Fresh Produce Expo and now they’re bigger and better than ever. With four new innovative products launched at Fresh Summit, including Cracked Pepper Curry Pistachios, Basil and Sundried Tomato Almonds, Smoky Bacon Blue Cheese Almonds and Cayenne Powdered Sugar Pecans, we can’t get enough of these easy on-the-go snacks, bursting with flavor and personality. Great job, U Gottabee Nutz!
Mann’s Broccoli Slaw
When it comes to lasting product innovation, Mann Packing showed us they have what it takes. This year’s show was all about celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Broccoli Cole Slaw, a product idea that came from a desire to focus on food waste reduction long before the topic topped the list of industry concerns. Not only did Mann use this anniversary as an opportunity to talk to the trade with ads, emails, promotions and a Snapchat filter at the show, they also leveraged this big milestone with consumers through blogger partnerships, a social media photo contest and a Pin it to Win it Contest using #brocslaw25.
Packaging Designed to Sell More Produce
We hear many produce marketers express that they aren’t sure how to properly educate and inform consumers about their products. Whether it’s a need to explain a product’s benefits and usage, or easing concerns about a lesser known product’s appearance, brands are conveying these messages through excellent packaging.
MIGHTIES™ Includes Health Facts
MIGHTIES™ includes nutritional information for their kiwi fruit to entice consumers to choose this fruit over other common produce options. Many consumers who want a potassium or vitamin C boost would typically reach for a banana or orange, and this smart packaging teaches consumers that there are other healthy options.
Harmless Harvest Says that “Pink is OK”
Harmless Harvest, a Coconut Water brand and new exhibitor to PMA, blew us away with their packaging addition designed to inform consumers and answer their common questions the brand knows they often have. One of those questions is a concern from consumers about the pink color of the coconut water, which the brand cuts off at the pass by explaining how pink color develops when the antioxidants are exposed to light. Very cool!
Kitchen22 Brings Ingredient List Front and Center
Kitchen22, an all-natural soup and fruit cup brand, no longer relegates its products’ ingredients list to the back of their labels. Instead, they tout their easy-to-pronounce components front-and-center. When your product contains only “good stuff,” that’s an easy, but innovative, decision to make. We left this booth hungry for more (soup AND smart marketing ideas).
Tasteful Selections Creates Individual Meal Solution with Take & Shake™ Cups
Tasteful Selections has done it again with their innovative microwavable potato offerings! This year the product that caught our attention was their new Take & Shake™ single-serve cups perfect for snacking or easy, individual meal solutions. Aside from the time-saving functionality, they have put thought into delivering great flavor options as well, like chili lime, chipotle BBQ and black pepper, rosemary and thyme.
Image courtesy of Tasteful Selections, LLC.
Frieda’s Creates Stand Out Labels for Jackfruit
Due to its size and lack of signage and labeling, consumers often feel intimidated to purchase jackfruit. Specialty produce brand Frieda’s has created a solution that they showcased during Fresh Summit: a label featuring the unique interior flesh while explaining how to eat the fruit. We’re excited to see this innovation lead to increased sales and category growth for this sweet and tropical treat!
Pouches Continue to Deliver a Punch
Pouch bag usage has been on the rise now for a couple of years in the produce department as companies have looked to them as a selling tool for easy, on-the-go portable produce items. However style, material weight and branding ingenuity have continued to amp up in this packaging type, and we saw so many great examples on this year’s show floor.
Creative Snacks Co. Provides Pouch Versatility
Creative Snacks Co. explained that their packaging is designed to give the retailer merchandising options and freedom. From hanging to standing to stacking, these pouches deliver more versatility to retailers.
RIPE Craft Juices’ Pouch with a Spigot
New to us this year were RIPE Craft Juices. While their entire brand presentation was truly top notch, the innovation that really stood out for us was their new 42oz pouch juices with a built in spigot for easy dispensing straight from the fridge or counter top. Not only was the juice that we sampled delicious, this move to turn a family-sized juice package into a highly functional pouch design was a true stroke of genius!
Fox Solutions’ Pouch Bagger
Fox Solutions created a custom-built machine for fresh produce products: the Pouch Bagger. As we saw across the show floor, pouch bags are trending in product packaging, so Fox Solutions listened to what their customers needed and created a machine that puts product handling, pack line efficiencies and food safety as top priorities. The machine was revealed at Fresh Summit and presents the perfect solution for produce brands looking to capitalize on this packaging trend.
Brands that are Listening
Exceptional marketers know that you can’t create brand loyalty and long-lasting results by going after a broad consumer category that is not specific in nature. Successful brands have listened and defined a clear audience, building their identity accordingly. Here are some examples:
We’ve written about Frieda’s millennial-focused rebranding before, but it’s clear that this company is doing more than just attracting millennials. They’ve demonstrated a willingness to take risks to draw in a more quirky audience that thrives in being different. The brand’s display in the new product showcase featured the callout “We’re weird, you’ll like us!” showcasing how this brand has harnessed their “niche” to provide unique fresh fruits and vegetables to adventurous eaters.
This fun brand has no trouble stating up front exactly who they want to attract. Self-proclaimed art enthusiasts, hippies and hipsters will be much more likely to grab this product off the shelf when sitting next to another competing product with a less-enticing label. These labels will appeal directly to their personal identity. Branding well done!
San Diego-based company Perfect Bar has a family story that’s just as good as the bars they sell. The Keith family grew up with dad – Dr. Bud Keith – focused on feeding his kids healthy foods, including his own combination of nut butters, protein, seeds, and fruit in the form of “perfect bars” for their traveling adventures. When Dr. Keith got sick, his kids took what they had learned from their dad and sold varieties of Perfect Bars as a way to support medical expenses. Since then, the brand continues to grow by bringing new flavors and packaging that speaks to health-conscious millennials.
Snapchat Filters on the Show Floor
We were blown away to see several brands utilizing custom Snapchat filters on the show floor to drive interaction. While we know Snapchat has users of all ages, this move is a great example of creating engaging trade marketing that appeals to millennial buyers. Millennials are beginning to compromise a majority of the workforce, which means that your consumer marketing not only needs to attract this group, but your trade marketing will need to reach them as well!
Brands Use Data and Intelligence to Provide Value
Smart marketers are collecting and consulting consumer intel to inform their decisions and develop their strategies. This trend was evident throughout the event – from numbers-focused general sessions to data-driven booth designs – and gets an enthusiastic 44 thumbs up from our team of measurable marketing evangelists.
Avocados from Mexico
The Avocados from Mexico video during the State of the Industry breakfast was a stand out as it highlighted how the brand is turning consumer info and insights into successful promotions/initiatives to engage those very consumers. The brand also displayed a mastery of cohesive integration as those same messages were also evident in their booth graphics, marketing materials, and even tech-y, yet tasty, sampling of their product.
iTtrade Network provides supply chain management solutions with their agile, cloud-based technologies. This work most definitely runs on data, but iTrade seeks to bridge every step of the supply chain by collecting even more data and integrating it with all aspects of their clients’ businesses, from operations to marketing.
California Giant Berry Farms
It’s clear that California Giant Berry Farms (CGBF) is a brand that geeks out about data. For years, CGBF has collected and analyzed figures and insights from all available sources, including their own shopper database. The brand then utilizes this information to guide strategy and optimize marketing communications, from targeted campaigns to recipes, blog content and more. Plus, the clean, highly visual presentation of this data in their in-booth video clearly emphasized how the brand’s commitment to data-driven marketing ultimately benefits their retail partners.
These companies presented pre-tradeshow marketing with a focus on data mining and intelligence. The collaborators presented new data on customer value generation, offering a downloadable study on the CHEP website. The study features a form that collects customer data for future communications opportunities for both brands. The brands then invited trade media to the booth for phone interviews, and we were highly impressed by these forward-thinking inbound marketing tactics.
Conference Keynotes and Sessions Elevate Bold Marketing
During the educational sessions our team attended, we heard a common theme and question being posed to the industry: what are you doing to stand out? We enjoyed hearing PMA elevate the concept of using non-traditional marketing methods to create brand awareness and advocacy.
Keynote: The State of the Industry Address
Bryan Silbermann and Cathy Burns gave their last joint State of the Industry – something that was bittersweet but inspiring. We reaffirmed that there are infinite opportunities for produce companies to lean into the changes in technology, eating habits, and partnerships with other brands, based on the trends that we’ve seen in the last year. Food trends in “all-American comfort foods” offers opportunities for fresh produce brands to create unique recipes that replace traditional foods for fresh produce – like zucchini noodles and mashed cauliflower. Both Bryan and Cathy also reiterated the importance of supporting marketing efforts in order to engage with consumers beyond traditional advertising – with Cathy exclaiming “marketing does work!”
Keynote: Johnny Cupcakes
Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle blew us away with his inspiring message to do something different and risky in order to stand out and create unique experiences for your consumers. The entrepreneur and t-shirt store owner reiterated that personalization with consumers is key – he himself often writes handwritten notes on packages as a nice surprise to his customers. What inspired us most about Johnny was his unapologetic attitude about being bold with marketing. His message was a reminder that sometimes we have to take risks in order to see amazing results with the brands we work with. He reminded us that you don’t have to have millions of dollars in order to be highly effective with marketing. The most successful marketing campaigns are usually non-traditional branding, digital, social, and PR-centric activities.
Educational Session: The Power of Produce
Yerecic Label partnered with FMI and 210 Analytics to deliver a powerful shopper data presentation on Friday morning. In this presentation, the panelist emphasized the importance of marketing, branding and consistency in labeling. One of the points that really hit home was that millennials are used to having information readily available at their fingertips. This drives their belief that they have a “right to know” when it comes to their food which translates to better labeling practices from produce brands. This data reaffirms many of the packaging innovations and bold labeling steps we saw from many of the cold-pressed juice and snacking companies on the show floor.
We can honestly say that we’ve never left a PMA Fresh Summit feeling more proud and more fired up as marketers for food that is grown. The produce aisle is becoming the most coveted real estate in the grocery store, and many of you have recognized the need for branding and innovation to stay relevant with your buyers and consumers to keep your place in this prime real estate. If you’re finding yourself wondering if you’re relevant with your buyers and consumers, Q4 is the perfect time to start thinking about how to adjust your marketing strategy for 2017. Let us help you get there. Request a marketing consultation with DMA Solutions and transform your marketing for next year.