Imagine knowing the back story of every fruit and vegetable that you put into your body. Accurate information about where it came from, who grew it and how it was grown and harvested. Though this information isn’t readily available for every food item (yet!), it has become increasingly important as the new generation of food-minded consumers continues to ask for transparency about where their food came from and how it was grown.
According to a 2014 study called FoodThink by SHS, 65% of consumers want to know more about where their food comes from and who grew it. Stemilt Growers, a family-owned grower/packer/shipper of fresh fruits in Washington State, sponsored a nationwide consumer survey in early 2016 and found that more than half of consumers (54%) want to know about the farm where their fruits and vegetables are grown.
The notion of storytelling in marketing is nothing new, yet has become a focus area in food marketing lately because of the consumer’s desire for this deeper level of information. Offering transparency about the suppliers of a particular product can help build consumer trust in the both the safety and quality of the produce found in your grocery store.
Beyond earning trust lies the fact that the suppliers of fresh produce – who are farmers – have incredible back stories to share. Generations of family farming experience, passion for the environment, a history of organic farming – the list goes on and on. These authentic stories were made to be shared, and should be part of every produce team’s shopper communication program.
And that’s where you, a retail dietitian, fits in. You are the gateway for the produce department to the consumer. You converse with and advise shoppers regularly, and have the power to use storytelling in your narrative to help shoppers form stronger connections with these foods, and subsequently, buy and eat more of them.
So, how do you capture these stories that consumers want to hear? Stemilt has put together a list of three tips for finding and sharing the stories of the fresh produce you sell at your stores.
1. Lean on your suppliers for stories and resources. Go direct to the source, your farmers and suppliers, for the story behind their fruits or vegetables. They can provide you with support resources to help share stories with your shoppers.
2. Read, listen and ask! Read stories by visiting supplier websites, reading their blogs, and browsing their social channels. Listen to the stories your produce team tells its shoppers, and ask questions of them to better know the back story of the products in produce.
3. Always be authentic. The best stories are true stories. Create your own unique style in telling the story, but always stick to the original version from the supplier. Transparency is everything to consumers.