With the virtual PMA Foodservice event right around the corner, there’s an important group of influencers and buyers that are likely on your mind: chefs and foodservice professionals!
When you consider that the most-followed food influencers on Instagram happen to be chefs, not food bloggers, it becomes more apparent how important it is to put our best foot forward when it comes to reaching this audience.
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly devastating for the foodservice industry. We anticipate foodservice buyers will be on the hunt for cost-effective and convenient solutions for grab-and-go and takeout in the coming months. Looking on the bright side, for fresh produce companies our current situation has potentially resulted in an increased demand for healthy, fresh food, especially organic produce. This means that foodservice buyers are actively seeking information about the products you grow and sell. Are you giving it to them?
Here are a few ideas to help you serve up better content and solutions to the Foodservice industry during and after the virtual PMA Foodservice expo!
Create content that educates about where fresh food is grown
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware and interested in where and how their food is grown, and they often turn to restaurateurs to shed light on this on their menus. Fresh produce companies have an opportunity to educate foodservice professionals about where and how fresh food is grown. This is your chance to help shape the narrative around restaurants’ use of buzz terms like “locally sourced.” For example, you can provide educational content on your website, in the form of a video, or a downloadable one pager that explains when and how to play up the seasonality of your items versus defaulting to “local” in a way that excites diners.
Build a “Foodservice Hub” on your website
Avocados from Mexico provides a shining example of how produce brands could directly engage foodservice audiences with helpful tools and resources that will lead to more avocados on menus. The “Back of House Resources” page is a brilliant way to provide professional kitchens with insight to better store and plate your product.
Host a (virtual) event tailored to foodservice professionals
Why not create your own event and bring chefs together to show off their cooking skills, make videos, and engage with your product information online?
For the past several years, California Giant has made a deeper investment in engaging chefs and foodservice suppliers with their annual Chef Invitational event. In the wake of the pandemic, this year’s event went virtual and took their engagement with foodservice partners to a video and an online voting format.
But it’s not only the recipe contest that makes the event successful. California Giant is providing chefs with resources and helpful information about new ways to use berries on their menus. Talk about a smart strategy that takes place right before the annual PMA Foodservice Expo each year.
Offer school foodservice professionals special curriculum
If school foodservice is your primary focus, consider creating a special curriculum that will offer school foodservice professionals something they all want: Continuing Education Units or CEUs. Duda Farm Fresh Foods recently offered a live foodservice training session during the United Fresh LIVE! Show that provided participants one CEU and the National Mango Board provides downloadable lessons and a workbook for school foodservice professionals as well. If building a program like this interests you, our friends at The Produce Moms can help!
Discover the power of public relations
Even if you are a grower without significant foodservice business, you should still consider how you can use chefs as influencers to inspire people to eat more of the products you grow and sell at the retail level. For example, if you grow microgreens, you can employ a public relations strategy targeting chefs to inspire them to experiment with microgreens on their menus. As a result, if more chefs add menu items featuring these greens, more people will become familiar with this ingredient and become inspired to purchase them to use in their own kitchen. Chefs can position your product as a trending item in the eyes of the consumer, which will get your retail buyers’ attention, too.
Foodservice opens a whole new realm of possibilities for fresh produce marketers to produce exciting and helpful content that can ultimately drive more demand for their products. Our 2020 Food Trends Magazine offers a great starting point for on-trend content you can create to reach this audience.
If you need help reaching foodservice buyers and want to have a creative session with our team, we're up to the task. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will schedule time to huddle. We hope to see you virtually on the 20th!