Disney Promotes Fresh Produce
When Imagination Farms, marketer of the Disney Garden brand of fresh produce, approached Progreso Produce about becoming a watermelon supplier for them, Bubba DeBerry of Progreso saw it as a win-win situation.
“We would be increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables among children and also finding a unique way to be able to market more watermelons for generations to come,” he says. The announcement of the new partnership was made in April.
Imagination Farms is marketing fruits and vegetables to kids through colorful, graphic watermelon bins with Disney characters and collectible stickers on other fresh produce items. Melinda Goodman, director of marketing at Imagination Farms, says watermelons are one of the core categories to the Disney Garden brand because they’re already a kid favorite. “Progreso Produce was a proven performer in watermelons, making them a good fit for Imagination Farms,” she adds.
The watermelon bins were launched in April 2007 and show Mickey and friends in picnic and festival-type scenes. “These types of visuals create
an interest with children that allow them to bring fun into their healthy food choices,” Goodman explains.
It’s important to market to kids so they can start making healthy decisions now that will translate to continued healthy choices as an adult. “When we can get children to start changing their eating habits now, they will not only be healthier, and help influence the choice that their parents make at the store, but they will also be consumers of fresh fruits and vegetables for life,” DeBerry says.
Although it’s too early in this marketing strategy to have an accurate account of its success, Goodman has heard good things from retailers using the bins. “One regional retailer reported single-day sales higher than previous years’ entire holiday promotion after featuring the high-graphic Disney Garden watermelon bins,” she notes.
Pumpkins And Gourds, Too
Progreso Produce, with operations in Texas and Arizona, also is the sole supplier of pumpkins and ornamental gourds to Imagination Farms. Pirate character stickers decorate the pumpkins while the gourds are packed in bags with items that allow kids to decorate them as parrots, keeping up with the pirate theme.
“The whole goal of the Disney program is to find unique ways to provide animated strategies that engage children with the product. The hands-on interaction helps kids create a personal connection with the fruits and vegetables that is memorable,” DeBerry says. “The fun memories will hopefully translate into positive experiences when children make healthy lifestyle choices about food.”
In addition to Progreso Produce items, Imagination Farms is also marketing a variety of vegetables such as lettuce, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower from Church Brothers and True Leaf Farms from San Juan Batista, CA.
All Imagination Farms suppliers must be third-party certified, and on-site audits are conducted at all growing and packing locations. Progreso Produce has a comprehensive food safety program in addition to the Imagination Farm audits. The operation is Primus and SCS certified, and a large restaurant chain also audits them at least once a year. GAP procedures must be followed, adds DeBerry.
Promoting Good Health
Goodman says the number-one goal of Imagination Farms is to help increase consumption of fruits and veggies among kids. “We will work toward that goal by continuing to offer creative packaging, innovative products, and engaging marketing that helps kids experience a little bit of the Disney fun and magic in every fruit and vegetable, while learning valuable health messages about fruits and vegetables that will help them become educated consumers with healthy lifestyles,” she says.
“As we all know, eating more fruits and vegetables is a lifestyle choice that takes place over time through education and learned behavior,” Goodman concludes. “At Imagination Farms, we hope that we can be part of a long-term lifestyle solution.”