Garland Perkins, The Oppenheimer Group
Garland Perkins, The Oppenheimer Group

Millennials are recognized for being more health-conscious compared to other generations, likely as a result of growing up with different societal norms including the obesity epidemic and the rise of “healthy living.”

One segment in which this health-focused preference is particularly apparent is juicing.

These products are touted as being preventative medicine for the body with labeling that advertises noteworthy doses of vitamins and minerals, in addition to having hip and convenient packaging.

The emergence of new products with exotic flavors and less sugar content is also contributing to the growth of this trend, playing into millennials’ openness to new tastes and a preference for healthy, wholesome food (the fewer ingredients, the better) and the popularity of juicing can be witnessed in the foodservice channel as well as in retail.

For example, Nekter Juice Bar opened its first store in 2010 and has since increased to nearly 40 locations, and Starbucks also has its own juice line called Evolution Fresh, consisting of cold-pressed juices and smoothies.

Produce companies like Bolthouse Farms have significantly invested in juice products and recently launched their Daily Golden Vedge and Daily Roots juices, both of which consist solely of vegetables instead of adding fruit for additional sweetness.

The juicing trend offers another avenue for enticing millennials to try a new fruit or vegetable or to learn an additional way to incorporate produce into their diet.

For example, before getting married, my husband bought a Jack LaLanne juicer and started creating fruit and vegetable juice concoctions (using his juicer and my blender) and sharing them with his roommates.

Soon thereafter his roommates too were hooked, coming home with bags of produce including beets, carrots, and kale — things I had never seen any of them eat before. They even started juicing for multiple days at a time, making the apartment smell like a local juice bar.

If millennials (who are known to be curious and adventurous when it comes to cooking and trying new food) are given examples of simple juicing recipes and are involved in the process through in-store sampling, demos, blender/juicer demonstrations, etc., it’s likely they will replicate these discoveries in their own kitchen.

Market research firm Mintel found that from 2008 to 2013, total retail sales of juice drinks grew 8%, and research from marketing agency YouGov finds millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers to say they think vegetables taste better in juice.

However some argue this trend isn’t all positive. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, suggests eating produce, rather than drinking it, is preferable. Others doubt the nutrient content given the amount of fiber that is or is not included in each drink.

Regardless, I can’t help but think juicing should be viewed as a positive step for the produce industry, at least in terms of awareness and increasing consumption.

This is a simple tactic for teaching millennials about new produce items, providing healthy solutions for meals and snacks, and displaying how they can do it on their own.

Particularly at the store level, using point-of-sale materials as teaching tools is vital. Especially for unique produce items, listing the nutrient content, as well as a simple juicing recipe, for example, could be the tipping point for driving the sale with millennials.

Garland Perkins writes a monthly column on the produce industry from the millennial perspective. She works in marketing for The Oppenheimer Group in its Los Angeles office.

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