Along with a wave of resolutions starting the new year will come a flood of health messages, "eat healthy with more fruits and vegetables" no doubt among them. Turns out those interested in helping consumers boost their fruit and vegetable intake might find greater success going beyond health.

New research from Produce Marketing Association (PMA) conducted by Sentient Decision Science, finds fresh produce's healthfulness offers a powerful messaging foundation to build upon, but not rely solely upon. Health claims framed with experiential qualities people seek, however, land as "icing on the cake" — appealing to how people feel or want to feel from food as well as their desire to eat healthfully.

"Eating fruits and vegetables is the single, simplest thing people can do to help ensure a full and vibrant life, yet people the world over need to be eating more," said Lauren M. Scott, PMA chief marketing officer. "This research explains health is just one of many reasons people choose foods. By also leveraging how fruits and vegetables satisfy broader needs like taste, convenience, emotions and culture at every eating occasion, we create a stronger incentive for choosing fruits and vegetables."

The study identifies seven categories driving food preference associated with the underlying experiences people look for in everyday eating occasions.

  • Healthy – rational assessment of a food 's nutritional features; degree to which it's natural vs. processed.
  • Specific Emotional State – satisfying a specific emotional need; anxiety/stress are defining drivers.
  • Richness – wanting an indulgent, bold flavor and food experience; seeking happiness, elevation, bliss.
  • Popular/In-the-know – emotional need for acceptance and pride in oneself; associations with cool, modern, proud to be seen eating.
  • Specific Flavor Profile – seeking a specific taste experience; savory is key association.
  • Revitalizing – rational need for something to replenish energy, while also rooted in a sensory desire for something refreshing.
  • Dependable – seeking something familiar, easy. Consistent, convenient define this category.

Marketers, health professionals, government agencies and advocates can leverage these experiential associations to compel people to think beyond produce's medicinal qualities alone. Individuals looking to cement healthy eating habits with more fruits and vegetables can also use these categories as a path to greater awareness behind what's driving their food choices.

For more information:
Cassidy Taylor
Tel: 1-302-781-5852