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Consumer culture shifts: Unveiling trends and innovations in produce marketing

By
Emily Holdorf, influencer and community manager for IFPA’s Foundation For Fresh Produce

As we enter 2024, there are countless trend reports and forecasting being done to help businesses shape their plans for the year ahead. At first glance, it may seem like chasing trends and attempting to predict what consumers will be looking for is a never-ending battle, but I encourage you to view this as an opportunity for how to approach marketing going forward.

Over half of the global population consists of Millennials and Gen Z, which is the sweet spot that Have A Plant programs have identified as our specific target audience. Much of our research and trend forecasting is dedicated to identifying how best to speak to these demographics. We’ll start by looking at how the landscape is set specifically for Gen Z to influence cultural shifts, which can be leveraged within the produce industry. Instagram’s 2024 Trend Talk sheds light on the ethos steering Gen Z’s behaviors, impacting global culture. This peek into their mindset reveals insights necessary for understanding their aspirations, priorities and social media habits that will significantly impact produce consumption going forward.

Prioritizing fruitful connections
Gen Z’s focus in 2024 revolves around fostering meaningful connections. While staying linked with friends and family remains their primary motivation for social media usage, staying up on trends in general comes in a close second. Their interest in trends is mostly around keeping up with fashion, music and tech. The produce industry can lean into the relationship building priority by creating marketing messaging centered around mealtimes and how they are the perfect opportunity for connecting with others. The FMI Foundation has confirming research that states when people enjoy meals together, they are more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables. So, this is a win-win for all of us. One way to lean into the connection piece could be to create sample menus or checklists leading up to holidays or other times of the year when people are likely gathering for meals together. This gives them ideas for how to utilize produce in the various parts of a meal. 

Cultivating a love for produce
This year signifies a growth era for Gen Z, with a profound focus on self-improvement and personal development, which you could ultimately say can be enhanced through an increase in produce consumption habits. One of their top focuses includes prioritizing health, aligning with regular workouts and healthy eating habits. By continuing to unite on messaging around increasing fruit and vegetables every time you eat, we can lean into this priority. If you’re working with influencers on social media, consider content creation around daily routines or day-in-the-life style videos, how to incorporate produce into them or creating new fruit and vegetable consumption habits. People love seeing real-life glimpses into each other’s lives and are often inspired to follow suit. 

Exploration & innovation
Gen Z’s culinary journey mirrors their curiosity and openness to new trends. Notably, there’s a continually growing interest in trending ingredients and foods. This curiosity aligns with their inclination towards healthier, eco-conscious choices, driving them towards consuming more produce.

They’re increasingly interested in vegan products, presenting an opportunity for our industry. By crafting content that highlights the benefits and delicious flavors of including various types of produce into their daily cooking, we can dominate this trend. This is our chance to excel in the plant-based domain where we rightfully belong.

A way to capitalize on this may be to seek out new and trending ingredients and pair it with your produce product. Think of all the delicious sauces, seasonings and more on the market that would deliciously complement your product.

Get creative with produce
To wrap up, we’ll shift gears toward a couple of content themes to inspire you this new year. In this year’s edition of Pinterest Predicts, two trends stood out to me that I think could bring a lot of fun and flavor (literally) to content — Melty Mashups and Tropic Like It’s Hot.

For Melty Mashups, this emerging trend combines two indulgent favorites, creating delectable, gooey combinations such as burger quesadillas and pizza pot pies. Anticipated to captivate the appetites of Gen X and Baby Boomers in 2024, this innovative food fusion promises a delightful culinary experience.

A surefire way to capitalize on this trend would be to encourage the inclusion of various vegetables in these mashup recipes. For instance, adding caramelized onions to burger quesadillas or put twist on pizza pot pies by adding colorful bell peppers, mushrooms and black olives to enhance flavor and boost nutritional value.

We all could use a tropical escape. With the Tropic Like It’s Hot trend, beloved foods, home décor and fashion will embrace a tropical influence. Both Boomers and Gen Z are propelling this escape-themed style characterized by hibiscus patterns, flavorful mocktails and vibrant hot pink hues. We all remember how consumers went crazy for everything pink when the Barbie movie was released last summer — there’s something to be said for amazing, vibrant colors when it comes to enticing food and recipes. The produce industry is extremely lucky that we have naturally bright and beautiful fruits and vegetables all around — purple sweet potatoes, dragon fruit, blood oranges, rainbow chard, the list goes on. Plus, it doesn’t seem like the mocktail trend is going away any time soon, so showcase how your produce, combined with 100 percent juice and some bubbly seltzer can pack a flavorful and nutritious punch for maximum relaxation at any time of day.

In summary, 2024 will witness significant cultural shifts driven by Gen Z’s priorities and offer the produce industry unique opportunities to capitalize on.

Understanding the emphasis on meaningful connections, health priorities and culinary exploration among Gen Z provides a blueprint for our industry to engage with this audience effectively. Leveraging content trends and themes, alongside a focus on mealtime connections and delicious produce offerings, presents a promising avenue to captivate consumers and foster a deeper appreciation for healthy and visually enticing food choices. Understanding these trends and priorities is crucial for the industry so that we can create innovative methods to engage with these consumers and ultimately boost consumption.

The Have A Plant Programs, as part of the Foundation For Fresh Produce, will lean into these trends and priorities throughout the year via our curated content calendar. You can get inspired by our 2024 Editorial Calendar so we can unify messaging and have a greater impact.

For a sneak peek at what’s ahead, we have a tropical escape content series planned to beat those winter blahs this February. Who wants to help share more of those vacation vibes with us?!

For more fruit and veggie inspiration and everything you need to support your consumer marketing plans, visit www.fruitsandveggies.org. Join us in person at the Consumer Connection Conference, April 29-May 1, in Phoenix.

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