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The art of seduction: (free) children’s fresh produce in supermarkets?

Last year, a discussion erupted on social media when a baby in a shopping trolley ate a free banana. The photograph went viral, and thousands of Dutch people thought free fruit should also be available for children in the Netherlands. The Voedingscentrum (the Netherlands Nutrition Centre) encourages the idea because it can boost the consumption of fruit and vegetables of children and young people. For parents it’s nice to have something to distract their children with while shopping, because there are many other temptations in supermarkets for children.

Grocery shopping can be very stressful to parents. Standing at the check-out is a well-known time for whining, but that’s a thing of the past in countries such as Sweden and Denmark. The government has made displaying fatty and sweet snacks prohibited in that spot, but in the Netherlands these products are still displayed by the check-out. Lidl is the only supermarket to actively implement a policy against this. “Various registers have some sweets on display. It changes per week and per branch. Additionally, we offer non-food products at the registers more often nowadays. Fun small products, such as tape, lip balm, hand cream, batteries, and more,” says Jerina van Heck, PR officer for Lidl. Lidl does offer free fruit in their shops. All branches offer pieces of fruit like apples or bananas. Albert Heijn also have free fruit available in their shops. 

The Carrefour formula has replaced some of its sweets at the check-out with fruit and the ‘nuts & fruits’ assortment. “However, we let customers make up their own minds. If we don’t offer unhealthy products, they’d just buy them elsewhere. We don’t offer free fruit in the shops, but we organise extensive tastings during the weekends,” says Baptiste van Outryve, director of PR & Corporate Communication for Carrefour.

According to the Health Poll/Lifestyle Monitor CBS, almost 14 per cent of Dutch youths (under 18 years old) is overweight. According to VIGeZ, the Expertise Centre for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, that number is around 16 per cent in Belgium (measured in the Flemish region). Healthcare parties such as the Dutch Diabetes Fund call for stricter rules for marketing to children.

Many Lidl branches have special shopping trolleys for children. These feature Frank & Jan’s logo, the children’s fresh produce line of Lidl. Jerina: “Lidl has been selling fresh produce products with the Frank & Jan logo since 2012. We do that because we want to make healthy products more appealing to children. This range consists of all sorts of smaller-shaped types of fruit and vegetables, such as the well-known snack tomatoes, apples, tangerines when in season, small cucumbers and bell peppers.” In many Albert Heijn branches, free fruit can be found in the Rock Frogs cart, a marketing tool for healthy products especially for children. Children can do a Rock Frogs hunt through the shop. The frogs show the way along healthier alternatives to processed products, such as lentil, pea or animal spread or fruit in a tube from the Rock Frogs brand. Although child marketing is up for discussion, the Diabetes Fund thinks marketing aimed at children, the way Albert Heijn and Lidl use it, can be used for foods that have a positive effect on health.

What about other formulas? Fiona Wijnbergen, PR officer for detailresult (Dirk, Dekamarkt): “We sell children’s apples, snack tomatoes and many other versions of snack vegetables such as miniature bell peppers, small cucumbers, carrots and more especially for children. This range has our special attention, and that’s why these types of products are regularly on sale.” Jan Linders is thinking of developing a fresh produce line for children. Gineke Wilms, manager Marketing & Communication of Jan Linders: “Jan Linders focuses on fresh, and offers the chance of tasting the products, especially in the fresh produce department. And that naturally also applies to children. Additionally, we have initiatives to develop healthy products with children and elementary schools, and to adjust these more to the children’s wishes. We are doing this in cooperation with Kokkerelli, ZON Fruit & Vegetables and Bayer. Besides, in savings campaigns we emphasise fresh produce and the fresh group. For example, consumers often get more savings points or savings items when purchasing fresh produce products.”

Children’s fresh produce
The development of special children’s fresh produce concepts or child-friendly fresh produce is apparently becoming a trend. As mentioned, Lidl has the Frank & Jan line. Fruitmasters markets apples and pears under the Smulfruit brand that is shipped to various retailers in combination with savings campaigns. In 2017, consumers receive a Disney’s Tsum Tsum cuddly toy when they’ve saved four action codes. Each bag of Smulfruit contains a unique code. Popular children’s figures are also used by the American Freshline Foods. In early May they announced Nickolodeon figures would be featured on the fresh fruit and vegetables packaging. The first product, sliced apples, will feature an image from Paw Patrol.

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Publication date: 7/12/2017


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