Archive for 'Food'

How to get your product noticed

One of my team happens to watch TV3’s reality series “Under The Grill”.  This is a show which has a UK born Aussie celebrity chef – Sean Connelly – racing to build, staff, supply etc a brand new restaurant at SkyCity in 100 days ready for the Rugby World Cup.  Tuesday  night’s episode (23 August – episode 2), among other things, featured Sean working on sourcing his fresh produce – so understandably, I got told about it.

I was told two things in particular:

The chef went out to Pukekohe  and visited a potato field where John Wilcox dug up some Agria for him to take as a sample.  Sean then proceeded to double fry them in duck fat on the side of the field(!) to test that they would be good enough for his restaurant to use (apparently these chips are a signature item for Sean).  It was a great advert for Wilcox – the field looked great, the potatoes and the resulting chips did too.

He also went to T&G’s Mt Wellington wholesale floor, where a produce buyer showed him around the produce on offer.  The place looked very neat and tidy, and I wonder what differences Sean noticed from the wholesale markets in Australia.  The produce buyer got Sean to try some tamarillos – saying they were a New Zealand native (I think not, maybe he meant to say favourite), but they weren’t to his taste – not such a good advert for tamarillos.

So exposure by way of product placement in television and movies can happen even in NZ…

I wonder if Wilcox have noticed any increase in sales that week?

How to Boil an Egg

Egg timerRecently my attention was caught by this egg timer bought by Sara.  So what is so snazzy about this egg timer, you may be asking; after all, what is so hard about boiling an egg?

It goes IN the pot, dear readers.

And, it got Sara and I thinking: how could something like this be used to benefit fresh produce marketing.

How great would this be for, say, boiling potatoes?  Are they new pototoes, or do I want them boiled for mashing, or maybe parboiled in preparation for roasting… imagine the traction potatoes could get utilising one of these in a “Cooking for Dummies” ad campaign.  And that would go for all sorts of other vegetables, too.  Plus, there is the marketing hook that the modern human loves gadgets.  I could see teenagers liking this – I wonder if there is an app for that?

One of the biggest barriers facing a consumer of fresh produce is “when is this piece of fruit ready for me to eat?”  If they can not be sure, then they tend not to buy it – and certainly they won’t attempt to cook it.

The industry has already shown that it can pursue innovation in this area – remember ripeSense?  What else can the fresh produce industry do to give the consumer to confidence to buy more produce, more often?

In the meantime, Sara, our Iraqi Kiwi with her eye for gadgets, her penchant for travel and her mastery of our facebook, twitter, linkedin and webmarketing affairs can be relied upon to discuss the next ‘very useful’ innovation in a matter of weeks. We will keep you posted.

At the Food Show

I made the point of going to the Auckland Food Show; a number of my team did too – and the feedback I received was that it was a very enjoyable experience.

So here is some feedback from my experience:

Allan Fong: A Fresh Grower

Allan Fong, a grower of Chinese vegetables in Pukekohe, working to go to the consumer directly. A fantastic example of where the mindset needs to be.


Fairtrade banana stand

Fairtrade banana importers working to raise their profile. But I saw no sign of Dole, Bonita or Turners & Growers!


Mahana Red stand

Marketer and wholesaler Freshmax promoting the "only available at Countdown" apple variety Mahana Red.


Singing Chef

This singing chef was part of the entertainment provided by the Pams range from Foodstuffs.

So that was some of what I saw at the Food Show.  What did strike me was what I did not see…

The only bananas on show were Fairtrade ones – no sign of any other brand; now New Zealand is known for being fond of bananas. We certainly do not need to be introduced to the crop per se. But Dole Bananas also travel with some sort of ecolabel or other. And I have no idea what Bonita is up to in this area. But if I were a banana merchant, I would be inclined to keep an eye on the Fair Trade crowd. We are not talking about a passing fad here, but a serious effort to build a sustainable economy in third world countries that has human dignity as its centre piece, something ignored at peril.

Progressive were only there in the form of Freshmax promoting a Countdown exclusive product; while Foodstuffs were there in the guise of their house brand Pams (which they have been promoting heavily over the last several months).

Fresh produce was not there in force at all, unlike other years.  No mushrooms, for example, and no mainstream brands such as Wilcox potatoes.

What is going on here?  I would have thought that a large Food Show, in a major urban centre, would have marketers out in force.

Is the cost of having a stand at one of these events so expensive that the ROI simply isn’t there?

On the other hand, looking at the many niche exhibitors trying to carve out their place in the sun with the visiting crowds, are the known brands getting just a little complacent?

Lost in Translation – Part 1

I have two  team members who is fluent in Mandarin and English, both written and spoken, another fluent in Arabic, two fluent in Afrikaans and yet another whose first language is Italian.  Those who know me, know my languages are German and English.  Between us, we can nut out most things.

However, some concepts will always be hard to translate, and the English language is notorious for getting around this by simply absorbing the foreign word into its lexicon.  Words like verandah and mana, for example.

Some translation efforts can be unintentionally funny – there is even a whole website devoted to examples spotted around the world.  Here are two I came across in my recent travels:




Cavemen and Calculus

I have a team member with a propensity for out of left field utterances.  A recent one got me thinking, especially as it matched a theme I’d been exploring for that presentation at Peking University I mentioned in the previous post.  It went something like this:

“We’re still cavemen trying to live in a 21st century world”

And one of my themes in myPeking speech was about the rate of change in my lifetime, how it is accelerating and methods of learning to cope with the problems this causes.

Whilst I don’t consider myself a caveman, there are times when the rapid rate of change happening everywhere I look does make me wonder if we, homo sapiens, are ready for it from an evolutionary standpoint.  Let’s face it, the human body is not built to withstand travelling above a certain speed.  We are soft flesh over a breakable skeleton.  Yet here we are, able to buy and drive cars that can travel well in excess of that certain speed.

Much of what we do, a caveman would recognise: we live in caves, albeit called houses and with air conditioning; we wear furs, although the clothes we wear come from mammoth stores, as opposed to a woolly mammoth; and we still eat nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables – although what Mrs Cro Magnon’s opinion of supermarkets would be, I dread to think.  So we’re still doing all the same things the cavemen did, we’re just more sophisticated in how we go about it.  We can devise changes in technology far faster than Mother Nature can in humans by evolution, so it’s no wonder the two are increasingly out of step.

How has this rate of change affected our food?
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