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Consumer habits have gone through radical changes in 2020, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. From sparking the trend for at-home scratch cooking to sustaining a rapid increase in veg box orders, many of these changes have led consumers to eat more fruit and vegetables than usual.
In fact, new research from IGD has revealed that more than three quarters of consumers changed how they planned, purchased and prepared their food during the first national lockdown, with more than half claiming to have eaten more fruit and vegetables.
IGD’s report Appetite for Change says food retailers have a unique opportunity to capitalise on this change in eating habits.
“Covid-19 has led to huge shifts in the way people shop, prepare and eat food,” Natasha Maynard, nutrition and scientific affairs manager at IGD told Speciality Food. “There is a big opportunity for retailers to support consumers to sustain some of these positive behaviours, particularly with regards to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.”
Independent food retailers often already have the basics covered, with farm shops and delis stocking brilliant, fresh produce from their own or local farms. But how else can fine food shops make their fruit and vegetable offering stand out with customers in order to make the most of the growing appetite for healthy foods?
“From really effective marketing and product placement to meal planning and recipe inspiration, there are lots of really practical actions retailers can take to help shift consumer behaviour further towards healthy and sustainable diets,” Natasha continued.
IGD’s research identified four key ways that retailers can ramp up sales of fresh fruit and vegetables, using techniques from behavioural science.
1. Using positive language and imagery to market plant-based meals and meals containing extra vegetables
“Use signage or educational messaging to highlight better choices. Keep messaging simple and focus on positive language to help normalise change,” IGD says in its report. “We tested messaging that illustrated potential cost, health and environmental differences by using vegetables as an alternative to meat in a meal.
IGD also tested different ways of framing vegetables. “The interventions focussed on adding an element of excitement around veg, through things like a seasonal veg campaign, a farm shop display and cues around taste and comfort.”
2. Creating striking displays of local and seasonal fruit and vegetables, in-store and online
“Optimise product placement, both in-store and online, to make healthy sustainable choices easy. Consider solutions that support people with meal planning,” the report continues.
“We changed the way products were presented online to inspire shoppers to continue buying ingredients to cook from scratch, even at busy times. We tested an online meal planner and meal box containing ingredients to make five family meals.”
3. Inspiring consumers to swap ingredients in their favourite recipes
“Make it easy for people to try something new. Recommend ‘simple swaps’ to existing recipes to help normalise healthy, sustainable choices. We shared simple ingredient swap suggestions to help people liven up family favourites and add new meals to their cooking repertoire.”
4. Using online meal planners, giving shoppers the option of adding ingredients to an online basket as they go
“Incentivise trial of healthy sustainable options. We tested an affordable meal box containing ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes to make five family meals. We also tested a label that illustrated potential cost savings, as well as health and environmental differences, by using vegetables as an alternative to meat in a meal.”
By highlighting your offering in-store and online and inspiring shoppers with meal kits and recipe ideas, both your business and your customers will enjoy a healthy start to 2021.