European retailer Delhaize boldly delivers with creative Junk Fruit campaign

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Photos courtesy of Ahold Delhaize

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“Are you ready for your new addiction?”

This is the tagline for European retailer Delhaize’s "Junk Fruit" campaign, which launched in August in Belgium.

“Traffic Fruit,” “Bing Berries,” “Grab-a-Grape” were some of the fruits on offer, designed to be eaten on the go, just as easily as junk food, when in traffic moments, in front of the TV or at work. For two weeks during August, shoppers found “Junk Fruit” snacks in the produce aisles of all Delhaize stores. 

Produce Business UK chatted to Jo Boone, Category and Positioning Manager for Delhaize, to get a closer look at the "Junk Fruit" campaign, as well as the retailer’s strong positioning on healthy eating.

What is "junk fruit" exactly and how did this concept come into fruition? Was it based on customer demands or a shift you saw in the market?

In January, we launched our new online platform 'On The Side of Life,' where we asked our customers how we could help them to try to live a better life by making healthier choices in their eating habits. One of the answers we received several times was that people wanted solutions to make their kids eat more vegetables, and, along with that, have easy solutions for healthier snacks.

They were interested in consumption of more vegetables, with a bigger focus on kids,  and healthier snacks for both adults and kids, in general.

As a solution to that, we first launched our campaign, 'Magic Vegetables’ (focused on young kids) with great success in March/April of this year.

'Junk Fruit' was created as an answer of a clear demand of our customers, from our online platform indications, as well as a general national concern in Belgium. Several studies conclude that the Belgian population doesn’t eat enough fruit. Only 9 per cent of our population eats the recommended amount of fruit per day, which is said to be 2-3 portions.

At the same time, we have noticed that in the unhealthy snacking department, the numbers have been increasing drastically, which means that people are tending to eat much faster, more conveniently, and of course, gravitating toward more unhealthy options than fruit.

That’s how we came up with the idea to use the term 'Junk Fruit,' a range of easy and healthy snacking fruits that you could eat instead of your typical 'junk food.' It encourages people to eat more fruit and to make a habit of it during those usual snacking or craving moments. In this way, we can help people to make healthier choices in their eating habits and do our part to encourage a more balanced lifestyle without having to change people’s lifestyles drastically.

In terms of the fruits themselves, what are on offer?

On the one hand, we opted for fruits that were easy to eat. On the other hand, we also kept in mind the typical snacking moments, where people usually crave for junk food and more greasy snacks.

For example, our current launch products consist of 'junk fruits' designed for certain moments: 'Bing Berries' are created for snacking while watching your favorite show. When you’re stuck in a traffic or bored, there is 'Traffic Fruit.' When you are at work, just 'Grab-a-Grape.'

Keeping to this concept, we came up with quite a large range of more than 30 references. We gave people an option to really find their choice, without any excuses.

Are there any particular places where the fruits are sourced?

A lot of the fruits have been sourced in Belgium and The Netherlands, as well as some surrounding countries like France and Spain. Of course, our more exotic fruits, such as kiwi, pineapple and bananas, have come from the usual sourcing countries, as they generally cannot be sourced nearby.

Are there other initiatives like this from Delhaize?

Delhaize also introduced the reformulation of different products to reduce sugar or salt, or to increase fiber. Most recently, we launched our Nutri-Score Label (where customers can scan products for simple, five-colour nutrition information) on our packaging, making it again much easier for customers to make better choices.

What are the projected results of this?

In our group Ahold Delhaize, promoting healthier lifestyle is a key and defining point of our strategy. Our mission for this campaign was to get customers to eat more fruit (and vegetables) and making a habit out of it on the long term. Launching these type of initiatives should help people in this challenge. And we hope to see a shift.

As for sales results, the 'Junk Fruit' campaign only ended last week; we’re still looking into the results. However, we’re expecting results in line with our 'Magic Vegetables' campaign, where we doubled sales during campaign weeks.

How are customers responding to this in Belgium?

Most customers and, people in general, are reacting very positively to the campaign, as well as to our other most recent initiatives (Magic Vegetables, Nutri-Score, etc). They are feeling a shift of eating habits, as do we.

Of course, since our baseline for 'Junk Fruit' was pretty bold: “Are you ready for your new addiction?” some people reacted more negatively as they found it wrong to use this kind of wordings linked to fresh fruit. However, these comments are coming from people who have already adopted good habits.

You touched on it briefly, but please tell us more about your “Magic Vegetables” campaign?

The idea of Magic Vegetables came up after several brainstorms, where we were looking into different ways to make vegetables more attractive for children. One of the ideas came from a customer who gave us her “trick” at home with her kids. She gave magical names to the vegetables, and her kids were instantly intrigued, loved it and played the game as well.

When we asked about this idea in several schools, the children were immediately very enthusiastic and also came up with new names themselves: Orange rockets for carrots, dragon teeth for chicory and so on.

Heading so many creative initiatives to get people – and kids – to eat much more fruit and vegetables, the question remains: do you have more of these projects to come?

Our most recent initiative was the launch of Nutri-Score: A very clear and easy label that we put on our Delhaize packaging, to help people to make better choices. The five colours and letters on the packs of our products will help customers understand the nutritional value of the product in the blink of an eye! So that better eating becomes kind of like child's play, as a matter of speaking.

In 2019, we aim of course to further implement our healthy initiatives, helping people make their life easier, tastier and more balanced.

Anything you want to add in terms of Delhaize’s your general policies regarding health, education and daily intake of fruit?'

It’s really one of our core missions to provide our customers access to an easy, tasty and more balanced lifestyle.

This doesn’t mean that people can no longer enjoy a good piece of cake, or that last chunk of chocolate in the fridge. But we — as a retailer — have the responsibility to make good food easy and accessible for everybody and offer them the possibility to make good and better choices.

On top of that, we try to start at a young age already, as we’re convinced that what you learn when you’re young, will stay with you later. 

To that effect, we have also organized 'Good Cook Workshops' in schools for several years and continue to provide them in the future. Essentially, they are workshops in classrooms in Belgium, for ages 8-12, where children can get acquainted with the origins of fruit and vegetables; understand the different seasons; discover the possibilities and the goodness of them; and even cook delicious, healthy meals themselves in the classrooms. We receive nothing but good feedback from teachers and children about these workshops. So we see a positive evolution as well as their interaction in the kitchen at home afterwards!

We also launched 'Free Fruit for Kids Days' in our stores awhile ago. We are looking into the possibilities to further implement this concept in stores in the future. Healthy eating and lifestyle and the education around it, has a big importance to us at Delhaize.

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