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Research provides National Mango Board with insights on consumer behavior

The National Mango Board conducts ongoing consumer research to explore consumer awareness, knowledge about mangos, buying habits, barriers to purchase and many other factors of consumer attitudes relative to mangos. Understanding consumer purchasing behavior is key to increasing mango consumption in the U.S.

In 2013, the NMB conducted an in-depth consumer attitude and usage study to better understand consumer purchasing behaviors. The overall goal was to measure consumer awareness and usage practices as they relate to mangos, and importantly, determine the extent to which shifts have taken place over time.

In addition to tracking and updating who mango consumers are, why they buy the fruit and what might encourage future purchases, the study also investigated health awareness and health perceptions toward mangos. Results highlight that overall, providing more information and education about mangos and keeping them in front of consumers at point-of-sale and in the media would help increase mango sales. Basic education is most needed by consumers since the research reflects not knowing how to choose and select a “good” mango, as well as what to do with it after purchase.
 
In 2014, the NMB conducted qualitative exploration research, also known as focus groups, with small groups of mango buyers and non-buyers to provide direction on effective mango messaging. The study included discussions of mango associations, usage, likes and dislikes, and the buying or eating experience and then progressed through a series of messaging statements. The statements covered general, education, nutrition and sustainability messaging. Key findings include the overall positive mango associations with tropical and sweet — with nutrition being one of the strongest messages for consumers. Top interest was paid to “100 percent of daily vitamin C in a single cup,” “20 vitamins and minerals” and “100 calories a cup.” Other opportunities for mango messaging include the lack of familiarity, not knowing what to do with a whole mango, and selection and cutting.
 
“Consumer research is vital to focusing our marketing strategies around the obstacles and opportunities that mangos present to consumers,” Megan McKenna, NMB director of marketing, said in a press release. “Armed with these findings, the mango industry can move forward with its outreach regarding mango selection, ripening, cutting, and usage since they continue to be the barriers to purchase.
 
To learn more about the 2013 Attitudes and Usage Study, 2014 Qualitative Exploration Research, and other consumer research please visit mango.org/retail/category-development-and-consumer-research.

Rain spells relief in San Luis Valley

Much-hoped-for rain fell in Colorado's San Luis Valley this summer, giving the region's potato producers a much-needed respite from ongoing drought conditions and declining aquifer levels.

"The San Luis Valley has had a decent year so far in terms of surface water flows. For the first time in the last several years, stream flow amounts were near normal through most of the irrigation season," said Craig Cotton, Div. 3 district engineer with the Colorado State Engineer's office in Alamosa, CO. "This was due mainly to the wet fall that we experienced last year and the summer monsoons that have occurred recently."

Earlier this year, Cotton reported that conditions in the Rio Grande River Basin were dire. "We have a low of 66 percent of average to a high of 97 percent of average," he told The Produce News in early January. "We're the lowest basin the state."

Increased precipitation has had a meaningful impact. "Because of this surface water availability, the wells have had to pump less than normal amounts for portions of the season," Cotton said. "In addition, we have seen an increase in the aquifer levels in the valley. This will aid in the recovery of the aquifers back to a long-term sustainable condition."

Giant/Martin's takes action against hunger this September

In recognition of Hunger Action Month this September, Giant Food Stores and Martin's Food Markets are asking customers to join them in the fight against hunger in the local communities the grocers serve. Throughout the month, Giant/Martin's-sponsored food drives and hunger-awareness initiatives will support regional Feeding America food banks, including the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Philabundance, Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley, FeedMore-Central Virginia Food Bank, Food Bank of Western Maryland, Greater Berks County Food Bank, Water Street Rescue Mission in Lancaster, Food Resources of Washington County, Maryland and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in Virginia.

“While Hunger Action Month is a time to raise both funds and awareness for local food banks, it’s important to remember that there is a need every month of the year,” John MacDonald, director of marketing and external communications, said in a press release. “Too many in our local communities go hungry, which is why as part of our ongoing better neighbor efforts, Giant/Martin's remains committed to the fight against hunger through the donation of food, funds and volunteer time.”

Running Aug. 31-Sept. 13 is Giant/Martin's annual Bag Hunger in-store campaign, where customers have an opportunity to donate $1 at the checkout to benefit their local food bank. Those who donate will receive a free Unilever product coupon book. A similar campaign held earlier this year raised a record-breaking $607,035 in support of local hunger relief efforts.

Also in partnership with Unilever, Giant/Martin's is hosting a Stuff-A-Truck event at its Havertown, PA, store Sept. 6.

In addition, for each flu shot Giant/Martin's pharmacies administer this year, Unilever will donate three meals to Feeding America, one of the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief charities.

Recognizing that high-quality protein is most in need by hungry families, Giant/Martin's innovative “Meat the Needs” frozen meat donation program has donated more than three million pounds of meat that would otherwise go unsold to its regional food bank partners since 2010.

In 2013, hunger relief efforts and donations to regional food banks accounted for approximately 40 percent of Giant/Martin's community giving with over 100 regional food banks and local pantries receiving $10 million in product, customer, vendor and corporate donations.

To learn more about the partnership between Giant/Martin's and Unilever to combat hunger, visit www.feedourfamilies.org.

GROW Month, hosted by Organics Unlimited, begins Sept. 1

Starting Sept. 1, Organics Unlimited will host its ninth annual GROW Month, a celebration of its non-profit program GROW (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers). In an effort to raise consumer awareness, Organics Unlimited encourages all retailers who carry the "GROW" label organic bananas to share the positive work stories they have helped make possible.

Since 2005, GROW has raised more than $1 million in support from those who have chosen to sell GROW bananas in their stores. This year alone, Organics Unlimited has raised almost $250,000 for the GROW Fund, which contributes to scholarships, educational programs, health clinics and safe water projects for workers and families in Mexico and Ecuador.

“This is a very exciting time of the year for everyone at Organics Unlimited,” Mayra Velazquez de Leon, Organics Unlimited president and GROW founder, said in a press release. “Each year our customers asking for the 'GROW' label exceed our expectations. They are benefitting from the program as much as the people they are helping in Mexico and Ecuador. They are changing lives.”

With each box of GROW bananas sold, a portion of the proceeds go into the GROW Fund. These donations are managed and distributed by the International Community Foundation. Project Amigo in Mexico and Children International in Ecuador are two places where GROW has helped build better communities.

Organics Unlimited continues to offer point-of-purchase materials to its customers. Complete with posters, header cards and recipe card, most items in the Organics Unlimited online store are available to download for self-printing. Banana bags are also available in the online store for free during GROW Month.

Lindsay Martinez joins Houweling’s marketing department

Houweling’s Tomatoes has added Lindsay Martinez to its marketing department in the newly created position of brand manager. Martinez brings 20 years of experience in the produce industry to the job. She was previously the director of marketing for Boskovich Farms in Oxnard, CA.

“Lindsay is a produce marketing veteran, having spent the last 20 years at Boskovich Farms in Ventura County," David Bell, chief marketing officer for Houweling’s Tomatoes, said in a press release.Lindsay.MartinezLindsay Martinez "This experience, along with an incredible work ethic, will provide tremendous support to our customers.”

As brand manager, Martinez will serve as the resident expert on all brand-related matters for Houwelings. She will take on a leadership role within the marketing department, championing Houweling’s year-round locally and domestically grown advantage through digital, in-store and experiential marketing campaigns. Additionally, Martinez will execute Houweling’s trade marketing programming, including implementing strategic promotions, packaging design and trade shows.

Houweling’s Tomatoes grows sustainable, certified greenhouse tomatoes on 175 acres in Camarillo, CA, and Delta, BC. In fall of 2014, Houweling’s will plant its new 28-acre farm in Mona, UT. Led by Casey Houweling and his team, the company is committed to growing a full array of great-tasting, sustainably grown year-round tomatoes.