A vision of fresh produce for 2024

New Year’s resolutions come with high expectations, new opportunities, and optimism. The promise of a new beginning allows us to shed the past year’s challenges and commit to embracing positive change ahead, like eating more fresh produce. Consumers are ready for this vision.

They are no longer pining for the pre-pandemic era of the 20-teens but seeking a future era where new diseases may be a constant. Therefore, learning to live in an environment where individuals must prioritize their health is the reality—not living in fear but being prepared to handle what’s to come.

This year’s vision is to continue to see concerns over the cost of food and the impact of new technology on consumers’ everyday lives. But more than anything, as consumers bolster their immune systems and develop habits to stave off future health setbacks, 2024 will be the year of longevity. 

While the pandemic created a wave of early and forced retirement, this year’s vision is that it will actualize retirements due to an aging population. Industries such as accounting are facing a cliff where the most significant percent of employees in the industry are of retirement age, and there is not a new force of educated employees seeking work in their field. 

Aging populations stay in jobs longer and wonder how soon we will get to the next chapter. This is driving a new effort to create longer-living communities, focusing on overall health and well-being to ensure longevity.

Related Article: The Affordable Luxury of Fresh Produce

Blue Zones

Made famous by 2023’s Netflix series, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, we’re learning the secrets to a centenarian’s life. And although the series does not promise longevity, the habits of those who live this long are being adopted worldwide. Recently, California awarded Sacramento County a $1.7-million grant to create the state’s first “blue zones.”

For example, Loma Linda, CA, one of the five blue zones in the world, is currently recognized as the United States’ only blue zone. A blue zone is an area with the longest-lived people and the highest life expectancies.

There are a few ways the produce industry can harness the hunger for longevity:

Focus on Nutrition Facts

We know consumers do not want to be told what’s healthy. However, they like being informed of foods that can improve their health and lead to a longer life. The popularity of the purple sweet potato is an excellent example of a produce item featured in the Secrets of the Blue Zones series, which is now gaining traction with shoppers. 

Brands should capitalize on the opportunity to boast their longevity benefits in a meaningful and easy-to-understand way that does not dictate the need to eat produce but instead celebrates the opportunity. 

Align with Community Behaviors

With the excitement and investment around creating Blue Zones, consider opportunities to align with community behaviors. “We’re going to be looking at how are our streets situated, healthy foods in grocery stores, accessibility with transportation, parks and outdoor living spaces,” said Tim Lutz, the director of Sacramento County Health Services.

Produce companies will gain consumer trust and loyalty when they can help shoppers make the connection between food and other health-positive activities they are increasingly focused on. 

Communication Value Propositions

According to Datassentials, 92% of consumers say that food prices have been too high for too long. Consumers may no longer want to hear the term inflation but still feel the squeeze at the grocery checkout. 

As an industry, we continue to press to produce prescriptions. The food as medicine movement continues to gain traction with consumers. The primary purpose is to communicate the value of investing in a diet rich in health benefits compared to the healthcare costs they’ll continue to incur. Otherwise, it will help consumers understand that a diet full of fruits and vegetables will be the avenue to longevity they seek.

They will begin to feel the immediate health benefits of a healthy diet and realize the financial benefits of mitigated healthcare costs over time. The vision of fresh produce is that a produce-rich diet today is more affordable than tomorrow’s diabetes prescription.

As our global population lives longer, longevity is a health priority for many. Produce marketers have a unique opportunity to tailor their consumer narrative to focus on supporting their desire to build systems and habits that will allow them a long and health-filled life. It will start with New Year’s resolutions, but we can help consumers extend the commitment to adopting new habits through longevity.