The fresh brand opportunity is now

Written by Nick Woods

Blog |

It’s a legal requirement these days to include Taylor Swift and/or AI in every single article in every newspaper and beyond so, for fear of offending, I’m going with TayTay, because the title of her (brilliant) song Blank Space, gives me a great start point for this article.

Why? Because that’s what the fresh aisle feels like today for anyone wanting to bring a new brand in – a big, blank, empty void, filled only with opportunity.

Well, ok, not quite a void… Albert Bartlett, Coregeo and one or two others have been successfully doing their thing for years and now we have Driscoll’s berries and Homegrown salads as emerging brands across UK retailers… but you get my point: the opportunity today is still huge.

The opportunity is born of a couple of factors: first, we live in a world of Tim Spector, Chris van Tulleken and Stephen Bartlett ,and consumers are questioning not just the foods they’ve always questioned (biscuits, cakes, and the like) but are also now questioning a far broader range of products, asking themselves if it has too much salt, sugar or fats, and what emulsifiers and stabilisers does it have?

This isn’t to say processed food is bad… some is, some isn’t… but I’ve yet to meet a dietician who doesn’t think a healthy diet is one dominated by fresh foods. Increased questioning of processed however, does definitely create increased opportunity for fresh.

Second is government intervention: Wes Streeting this month not only said he was going to steamroller the food industry into promoting healthier foods, but also advocated for brand marketing techniques to be applied to promoting fruit & veg.  It’s quite the moment when even government can see that putting advanced, contemporary marketing and comms behind fresh might help as much as brand-bashing.

The third factor comes from the retailers themselves.  Retailers want growth, but that’s something own-label can’t and won’t deliver.  Own-label doesn’t carry out comms or marketing.  It doesn’t seek to understand its consumers, to segment audiences, to target specific groups, to create relevant positioning and create motivating campaigns.

Own-label doesn’t care, it says “I’m here, take me as I am, or don’t… I don’t give a monkeys, jog on”.

But brands?  Brands care about growth too. Brands actively recruit consumers to fixtures in-store and online. They run promotions, deals and offers, they create partnerships with other brands, they run ads, PR campaigns, influencer campaigns and they create content… all of which helps bring people to the category.  They care about short-term sales and building the long-term resonance that keeps the punters coming back season after season, year after year.

They help educate consumers on what vitamins and minerals their produce contains, what those vitamins and minerals do for us across brain health, eye health, heart health, gut health, energy supply, inflammation reduction and immunity boosting.  They also explain taste and flavour, showing us what else goes well with the produce and how to use it to create meals throughout the day.

Successful brands mean growth for retailers.

The fresh aisle is currently a forced move for the consumer – you almost always HAVE to pass through it.  So, yes, lots of consumers may pick up some own-label apples, bananas, berries, satsumas, carrots or broccoli, but the data tells us they are seduced by brands. Too many think “well I suppose I should” in the fresh aisle and “I really want that”, in branded aisles.

So yes, the opportunity is now… it’s a blank space people, you just got to write your (brand) name


This article first appeared in Fresh Produce Journal.

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