ANAHEIM, Calif. — Strategies to beat the recession and inspire consumers opened the Fresh Produce & Floral Council Expo July 14.

FPFC Expo opens with ways to beat the recession
                                                           Dawn Withers

Emily Fragoso, marketing manager for Coast Produce Co., Los Angeles, talks about creative ways to market produce for consumers closely watching their budgets during the opening session of the Fresh Produce & Floral Council 2009 Southern California Expo. July 14.

During the opening session, Emily Fragoso, marketing manager for Coast Produce Co., Los Angeles, and Kate Reeb, vice president of retail services for the company, said produce companies should capitalize on the “local” trend in produce by offering profiles of growers and working with retailers to make produce buying experiences more exciting for consumers.

“The shopper craves authenticity,” Fragoso said.

In response to the recession and continuing job losses, consumers are making fewer impulse buys in the produce department, Fragoso said, and sticking to their lists to keep within their budgets. What that means for produce companies, Fragoso said, is using creative marketing — everything from recipes and in-store cooking demonstrations — and highlighting the seasonality and locality of produce.

A large untapped consumer base is children, Reeb said, who are often overlooked when it comes to produce promotions. Building produce displays that are child-friendly and sponsoring in-store tours and tastings with children are good ways of promoting produce and getting them in the habit of eating fruits and vegetables.

“You are training the shoppers of tomorrow,” Reeb said.

The one-day event at the Disneyland Hotel and features more than 150 produce and floral booths. La Mirada-based FPFC also has a Northern California spring expo in Pleasanton.