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Jeff Dunn is tired of produce losing share of mouth to junk food and he aims to help fruits and vegetables maintain a better position against other snack alternatives.
Dunn, CEO of Bolthouse Farms, discussed plans for an industry-wide initiative to get more fresh produce (and presumably less sugar and fat) into people's mouths, in between meals as well as during the three-square dayparts, in his presentation during PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans.
Generic campaigns like 5-A-Day haven't borne nearly the fruit they should have, says Dunn, a former Coca-Cola executive. What the industry needs, Dunn insists, is a category-specific effort designed to boost consumption across the board.
"The retailer wants scaled-up activities," Dunn told me after his presentation, asserting that "customer-specific campaigns work."
Key demographics that should be targeted? Millennials with children, as well as the children themselves, namely "treating them like consumers" who are as tuned in to social media as much or more so than most adults. The idea should be to win over kids' palates with healthier snacks before they get too used to sugary snacks, and make the "nag effect" work in produce's favor. "There's no reason you can't create that for healthy food," Dunn declares. "Make healthy food as creative and fun as unhealthy food."
Dunn says the First Lady's nutrition campaign is "helping the industry get more activated" with its own efforts -- which is good, since regulatory pressure on the food industry as a whole is unlikely to ease up anytime soon. "I think the produce industry has an opportunity in demand creation," he says.
For the immediate future, Dunn envisions an online marketing community "to capture best practices" to be shared by growers, shippers and marketers among PMA's membership. For the longer term, Dunn's marketing team is working with PMA to develop a number of online and offline vehicles designed to help industry players refine their message and get it out to consumers.
Dunn comes from Coke, one of the world's most recognizable and beloved brands, which for decades has delivered a clear message to consumers and blue-chip returns for grocers. If that background is any indication, Dunn's plans to inject excitement into the produce category ought to be a great success.