Karen Caplan: The New Holiday Table

Karen Caplan

Karen Caplan

by Karen Caplan/President and CEO, Frieda’s Specialty Produce

If you’re a retailer, you’ve probably already set your ads for the upcoming holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And chances are you’ve chosen pretty much the same selection of produce items to feature as you did last year: orange sweet potatoes, green beans, Russet potatoes and cranberries.

I’m not a retailer, but I’ve recently learned that one of the reasons most retailers run the same items each year—and this also applies to every month of the year—is that retailers are concerned about comp sales. It’s fairly easy to predict what volume you’ll move and your profit dollars if you are working off the same base as 52 weeks ago.

But in case you haven’t noticed, consumers’ eating and shopping habits are changing. With most consumers—especially young Millennials, older Millennials and Gen Xers—changing their food choices to be more plant-forward, the holidays are a great opportunity to change things up a bit and to show you are responsive to your shoppers’ interests.

When you are selecting produce items to feature in your print or digital ads, you should be thinking “Instagram.” The great portal to visual influencing and messaging. What visually-arresting photo images can you include to entice and inspire shoppers to choose your store as their cooking partner?

Which of these photos is more exciting to look at:

 A bowl of regular mashed potatoes, or mashed Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes with a maple syrup drizzle and walnuts?

 A platter of candied sweet potatoes, or roasted whole multi-colored carrots with the tops on?

In this age, an image is your gateway to inspiring and attracting shoppers, so why not think colorful recipe photos instead of single-product photos in your advertising?

In the near future, we will be able to publish the results of our survey of shoppers and what motivates them to try new produce items and foods for classic celebrations like Thanksgiving. (Hello, Millennial shopper—I’m listening to you!) Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, instead of serving pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year, I plan to serve an incredibly delicious and colorful Purple Sweet Potato Pie, topped with maple coconut whipped cream.

Karen Caplan is the president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce in Los Alamitos, California, a women-owned family business and leading distributor and marketer of unique and exotic fruits and vegetables to supermarkets and foodservice distributors in North America. A well-respected leader in the produce industry, Karen regularly contributes her insights to national publications and is a frequent keynote speaker and panelist.


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