Jul 10, 2023
Farm Market & Agritourism: You can benefit from consumer trends, too

A handful of Extension educators with the Food, Family and Health unit contacted me and asked if I could connect them with some farmers market managers. These educators received a small grant to create a healthy cooking demonstration program for farmers markets.

I published the program information in our monthly e-newsletter for markets, and soon filled the educator’s “dance card” for the program — so much that they had to turn down many requests by market managers who wanted them to come and do the demonstration at their market.

Growing trend

My Extension colleagues hit on a growing food industry trend. Consumers are focusing on foods that contribute to their health and wellness. According to The
Hartman Group (which studies consumer trends and behavior), in their Health and Wellness 2023 report, they say this trend “is being shaped by a desire for quality of life and longevity, resistance to the commercialization of
wellness, and inflation.”

This is a unique time for health and wellness consumers. Despite the reset, health and wellness continues to be viewed as consisting of three overlapping and deeply connected elements: physical, mental/emotional, and social health, all of which are crucial to achieving overall quality of life and longevity. In 2021, 49% of consumers surveyed by Hartman researchers said they would pay more for healthy food and beverages.

The grocery industry is also paying attention to this trend. An article I saw this month on grocerydive.com said that the grocery store chain Hy-Vee offers their customers wellness services for a monthly subscription fee. Subscribers receive two 30-minute consultations with a dietitian, on-demand cooking and wellness
classes. This same company has a ship-to-home website called “WholeLotta Good” that offers more than 5,000 better-for-you products and wellness tips. Dr. Kathy Kelley and Claudia Schmidt of Penn State College of Ag state in their “Food Trends 2023” article that consumer interest in including more produce in
their diet is increasing. Of those surveyed, 57% would like to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, a 10% increase over responses collected in 2021
(Datassentials, 2022).

Improving market performance

Knowing what consumers are looking for and having some information on what is trending can help your market performance. What are some health benefits from the produce we grow and sell that we can promote through our signage and product displays? This information may change where we place these items in our market.

Using signage that communicates price isn’t really giving any useful information to your customer that helps them with their purchasing decision. When creating signs for your products, using the “feature-benefit” technique for signage is helpful. You choose a feature about the product you want your customer to know and include up to three benefits that feature brings to the customer.

An example could be an Evercrisp Apple — the benefits: a good combo of sweet and tart, great in desserts without adding sugar. The feature-benefit sign allows the customer to make an informed decision and purchase the product that is right for them. If consumers want to increase their fruit and vegetable intake, we
should be able to help them do just that.

I can confess that lentil chips have made their way into my household as a snack alternative and are surprisingly addictive.

— Brian Moyer, Penn State Extension

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