The produce section draws the eye with vibrant colors and the promise of fresh offerings, but it’s remained one of the least branded grocery categories. Fruits and vegetables are typically sold unpackaged, labeled with only a sticker featuring a PLU code and a small brand mark to identify them. With the “clean eating” movement at its peak, we’re seeing a lot more well branded fresh produce items. By moving into a space that has virtually no branding, companies are able to establish a sort of monopoly on generic produce items, similar to the way Kleenex and Band-aid have. In a category with such minimal branding, what marketing strategies are companies using to positioning themselves?


Branding in the Fresh Produce Space

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For the Kids

Many initiatives have cropped up that are taking a stand against childhood obesity, by encouraging children to be more active and eat healthier. One easy way to appeal to an adolescent audience is to assign characters to products. Cuties (easy peel mandarin oranges) and Mighties (kiwi fruits that come packaged with a knife-spoon combination) both come packaged in multi-packs, and stand out in the category with lively characters and fun names. The friendliness and ease of consuming have made them an ideal go-to lunchbox addition.

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There’s been a constantly rising demand for healthy snacking alternatives. The preparation of fruits and veggies is a drawback that might lead a consumer to reach for a bag of chips to satiate appetite instead. But convenient, options help to eliminate that issue. A few years ago, Pom Wonderful stormed into the produce category with a unique structure for a unique product – pomegranate juice. Promising high levels of antioxidants and other health benefits, the brand of juice was an instant hit. They’ve now solved the pomegranate lover’s problems of breaking open the fruit, which can be a messy ordeal, by packaging the arils (seeds that make up the fruit) in a convenient cup that’s ideal for snacking on the go. Wonderful Pistachios have also dominated the market for pistachios, with the catchy tagline, “Get Crackin’”. The brand has become large enough to be featured as a Super Bowl for the last couple of years. Bolthouse Farms has an array of juice and dressings offers to make produce consumption easier, and their Veggie Snackers (pre-cut carrots with flavor ) are a perfect addition to that product line.

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Plenty of people opt out of their recommended veggie servings simply for lack of time. Cauliflower “rice” has become a big thing in the past few years as a healthier starch option. The preparation can take quite a bit of time, but Caulirice hit shelves with a version of the rice alternative that can be cooked in less than two minutes. Similarly, the Little Potato company offers microwave ready heirloom potatoes that come with a variety of seasonings. And of course, salad kits remain a popular go-to. Eliminating the need to clean, chop and cook veggies means a lot more opportunity to integrate them into your diet.

These products are the beginnings of the new age of produce branding. Will we see more strong branding come through in the less exciting fruits and veggies like celery and broccoli? We’re interested to see how the produce section will continue to be branded in the future.