Fall is harvest time and back to school time (maybe). Regardless of whether they’re in a physical school building, kids — not to mention their grown-up caregivers — need healthy lunches with produce every day.
- Consumers are currently visiting grocery stores less often, and looking for ways to stock up on fruits that will last longer at home if refrigerated.
- Lunchboxes can be for kids or adults, especially if they’re bento boxes.
- Help customers create lunches their kids want to eat, and promote value-added produce for busy consumers who will be packing lunches.
Shorter days; crisp, cool air; and crispy, sweet apples can be signs that fall is here. Many fruits and vegetables are at their sweetest during this time. When kids head back to school and adults to workplaces, healthy lunches will be needed. Even if consumers stay home longer, attention to diet is important. Here are a few ABCs of fall produce, featuring some new and convenient fruit and vegetable items to promote for lunchboxes.
A is for Lunchbox Apples
One of the largest fruit growers in the United States, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt will continue its Lil Snappers line for fall. “It aligns well with the typical back-to-school timing, because that’s when our apples and pears are newly harvested,” notes Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s senior marketing manager. The smaller-fruit program has evolved into the leading 3# pouch-bag brand for apples, with year-round availability.
Lil Snappers has seen great growth during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the package size, Shales says: “Consumers are visiting the grocery store fewer times and will stock up on fruits like apples and pears that will last a while if refrigerated.” The package provides nine to 12 kid-sized fruits to help parents provide a healthy snack for kids whether they’re at school or still at home. “Personally, my kids request many snacks during these at-home days, and it’s nice to have the package of apples sized just for them in the fridge,” she observes.
Healthier Days for the Family
Eating fruits and vegetables is, of course, an ideal way to create healthy diets for children and adults alike, and there are certain spices and produce that increase immunity against diseases.
Los Angeles-based Melissa’s now offers a package of 70% ginger/30% turmeric, two spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory characteristics, as well as making good additions to a variety of dishes. “Since a little goes a long way in these two powerful spices, Melissa’s is now offering them in one convenient package,” says Robert Schueller, the specialty produce company’s public relations director.
The Brentwood, Mo.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), meanwhile, recommends marketing certain produce to adult shoppers who are seeking food safety and immune health. Fall favorites like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and certain squashes are all sources of beta carotene, an antioxidant that may support immune health. Sweet or spicy peppers as well as spinach are high in vitamin C. Combined displays and signage can draw shoppers’ attention to these options that help keep immune systems running at their peak, notes Annette Maggi, a registered dietitian and retail accounts manager at PBH.
“We work with Produce for Kids,” says Jeff Wingo, supervisor of produce operations at Town & Country Supermarkets, in East Salem, Mo. “We have point-of-sale material in our stores, and also make note of certain items in our ad if they are a Produce for Kids sponsor. We have also used our social media pages to promote healthy recipes and partner with them on other events.”
Convenience Begins with “C”
“Convenience is the name of the game for encouraging kids to eat fruits and vegetables,” observes Annette Maggi, retail accounts manager for the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), based in Brentwood, Mo. “Retailers can promote pre-cut fruits and vegetables as perfect options for adding to lunchboxes or to have on hand for easy self-serve snacks. Or produce departments can offer recipes done all in pictures that kids can make themselves, which are bundled with the produce ingredients.”
Supermarkets will be promoting items for lunchboxes with convenient healthy food to keep kids energized all day. “Frieda’s Chilean kumquats are the perfect school snack because they are bite-sized, delicious and ready to eat,” suggests Alex Berkley, director of sales at Frieda’s. “With their convenient packaging, it is easy to merchandise them with other common snacking produce like apples or oranges for a back-to-school destination set.”
Retailers can also add items such as Frieda’s cape gooseberries, jicama and watermelon radishes to their displays, since shoppers are on the lookout for new, healthy treats that will appeal to kids.
To inspire parents, Frieda’s will host a social media campaign starting in August on Instagram and Facebook, and dedicated to sharing what parents are putting in their kids’ lunchboxes as they head back to learn. The campaign uses the hashtag #WhatsForLunch.
Los Angeles-based specialty produce company Melissa’s, meanwhile, has its own range of convenient and healthy produce. For example, the company’s Muscatos grapes are convenient and a naturally sweet option for lunchboxes or snacks. The red, green or black seedless grapes are available during the California season of late June to early October, with peak season from mid-July to mid-September.