How Fresh Produce Companies and Bloggers Produce Fresh Results

Food and Mom Bloggers provide produce companies access to new audiences, encourage consumer engagement, create recipes and authentic content along with quality videos and photographs, and truly understand how difficult it is to get kids to eat green.

Mnet 140156 Kids Eating Produce Lead

Food and Mom Bloggers are the most valuable players when it comes to promoting fresh fruits, veggies and healthy eating. They provide produce companies access to new audiences, encourage consumer engagement, create recipes and authentic content along with quality videos and photographs, and truly understand how difficult it is to get kids to eat green. 

“Moms are always looking for recipes stealthily packed with fresh vegetables and fruits that their children will Eat, with a capital ‘E,’” said Leslie Mayorga, Mom Blogger and owner of Lesley Loves Veggies. “It’s a never ending challenge and it’s one I love to address in my blog.”   

According to BlogHer, 81 percent of Americans trust the content of bloggers over traditional media outlets. In fact, 78 percent of Moms listed blogs and websites as their go-to source for recipes — surpassing magazines and cookbooks.

So what are the ways produce companies and Bloggers team up to increase the consumption of fresh produce?

Bloggers and produce exhibitors at the recent PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim offered fresh ways to partner and sustain relationships.  If you’re working with Bloggers or are planning a Food or Mom Blogger outreach program in 2015, take some advice from these experts:

Oakley Boren, Social Media and Communications Specialist

Frieda’s Specialty Produce

Q: How does Frieda’s work with Mom and Food Bloggers?

We have bloggers, moms, home cooks, and foodies on our team, so we understand what moms and food bloggers are looking for when it comes to content creation. We check in with them regularly to provide ideas, inspirations, and information for their future posts. We answer any questions they may have along the way from recipe ideas to food trends. Personal relationships are important to us at Frieda’s, and that reflects on how we work with our network of bloggers.

Q: What are the benefits working with Mom and Food Bloggers?

As it is Frieda’s mission to “change the way America eats fruits and vegetables,” mom and food bloggers are in the forefront of this movement. Bloggers introduce new fruits or vegetables not only to their families but to readers everywhere. People go online to look for recipes and ideas, and they get them from bloggers.  It’s a wonderful way to get people to try something new.

Nancy Buchanan, Food Blogger

A Communal Table

Q: How can produce companies do a better job working with Food Bloggers?

I think what is happening with produce in this country is very exciting — Americans are increasing their demand for fresh fruits and vegetables; technological advances are enabling companies to provide more and more produce in "snack sizes," and the number of varieties of within produce categories are increasing — but, unfortunately, the public in general is sadly misinformed about the safety and quality of our produce supply. Produce companies would benefit from developing relationships with bloggers to help communicate this message. As you know, the media love to portray negativity and rarely talk about the good stuff — and I think the produce industry has an excellent story to tell!

As to how bloggers can help spread the "safety/quality" message, I think tours are a fabulous way to do that. I have done several with Melissa's Produce and Dole, and I received great feedback from my readers. For example, Dole flew me to Monterrey, Calif. where I met with Dole representatives, toured some of their fields and their packing facility, and met with some of their growers. I was able to share the experience with my readers via photos I took during the tour and through what I learned. I wasn't compensated for the trip, but Dole covered all of my expenses (including meals, transportation and lodging).

I recently returned from a trip to the World Food Championships with the U.S. Potato Board. I was paid to develop a recipe for them. The U.S. Potato Board used my recipe and photo in their promotional material for the event.  The U.S. Potato Board sponsored my trip to the Championships and my attendance at the Food, Fight, Write conference. While at the Championships, I demoed my recipe with the U.S. Potato Board where we talked about the recipe and potatoes - from both a variety and nutritional point of view.

For most bloggers, posts require a significant amount of work and, like any professional, they need to be compensated. As for compensation for posts, that varies from blogger to blogger - anywhere from $200 up to $700 which typically covers recipe development, food photography and styling, editorial content and distribution through the blog and social media channels. 

Brandie Kajino, Food Blogger

Spoon and Saucer

Q: How can produce companies do a better job working with Food Bloggers?

Companies can keep in mind that many of us do this as a full-time career, and it's insulting to be asked to work for free. Recipe development, writing articles, website hosting, photography and other tasks take time and money to produce. Free products or exposure — as when brands offer to “expose” bloggers on their social media, blogs, or websites — is not a form of long-term compensation. It's simply a matter of education and respect, on both sides. The relationship between companies and bloggers should be mutually beneficial.

Valerie Mitchell, Blogger

Mama Likes to Cook

Q: How can produce companies do a better job working with Bloggers?

Contact us by email to start a conversation on how we can work together, be it recipe creation, reviews, giveaways, farm/facility tours, etc. Bloggers are different than traditional media, so a press release and an offer of high res images aren’t effective. Most of us want to develop relationships with brands and use products prior to writing about them. Our readers count on us to write authentically based on our experiences.

Don Odiorne, Vice President Foodservice

Idaho Potato Commission

Q: How does the IPC work with Bloggers?

I am the person to write or talk to at the Commission about working specifically with food bloggers for recipes. We approach each blogger to help us fill in a missing niche in our recipe files from holidays to ethnic, etc.

Our website has a section devoted entirely to 50 bloggers we currently work with. It includes their bios, head shots, links to their blogs and the Idaho potato custom recipes they created. We feature a monthly food blogger recipe, a monthly video and sometimes an event such as Potato Palooza or a project such as a Latino Recipe E-book. On our home page, we have an ongoing $500 photo contest for recipes. We currently have 110 food blogger recipes on the web site and probably 50 blogger videos on the Idaho Potato Channel with a total of over 1 million views. Three years ago we began doing tours in Idaho of the harvest, storage and shipping of potatoes targeted exclusively to bloggers.

 We offer bloggers terrific background information on Idaho potatoes cooking and preparation tips on Dr. Potato.

 We do pay our bloggers to develop recipes, anywhere from $150 to $300 or more if we have a specific need. An exception for a very well known and popular blogger might be $1,000, however that's my ceiling. I walk away from the requests for $1,500 or package deals. And, in my opinion, bloggers don't need an agent until they have a large following or a book to promote. I’d rather work with more bloggers than pay a few a lot. For videos — three minute maximum — we pay $1,000 to $2,000. 

Q: How does the IPC evaluate bloggers?

The blog focus has to be food, front and center. The blogger’s photography (documenting recipe steps or food close-ups) and writing style are key. Are they good storytellers?  Are they generalists? We look at the blogger’s use of potatoes in their already existing recipes, and particularly those that are family-friendly, relatively healthy and wholesome. We also like to have bloggers from various regions in the country and it should be easy to find their contact information including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram on their blogs or websites.

We choose not to use bloggers who have prior relationships with other potato organizations. We research their sites to see how they treat brands in their posts and we do not use bloggers who are heavy into using coupons to build traffic.

Traffic is increasingly important for any of our video content. That is where we really do try to take advantage of a blogger’s strong following. Otherwise, for photos and recipes, traffic is not as a big concern as is a good personality fit.

I have probably a dozen bloggers that I reach out to again and again or that periodically come up with an idea for consideration.

Mary Papoulias-Platis, Food Blogger

California Greek Girl

Q: What advice do you have for produce companies that want to work with Bloggers?

Produce companies need to have someone on staff from their social media department to connect with bloggers. Follow what the Idaho Potato Commission, Melissa's, Frieda's, and the Watermelon Board do for bloggers.

Juliemar Rosado, Marketing Communications Manager

National Watermelon Promotion Board

Q: What are the benefits working with Mom and Food Bloggers?

In an ever-changing digital age, the one thing that has been consistent is the increase in social media, as well as the impact and reach the blogger community has on influencing new trends and buying habits. The NWPB is always looking for new ways to educate and reach consumers and we recognize that Mom and Food Bloggers are a great way to do so.

Q: How does the NWPB work with Mom and Food Bloggers?

NWPB works with Mom/Food Bloggers on a “blogger by blogger” basis. We recognize and understand that each blog and its audience is unique.

Q: What special Mom/Food Blogger outreach programs in place for 2015?

We will have some outreach programs in place for 2015 and are in the planning phase of these programs. NWPB does outreach by attending food blogger events, trade shows, and conferences where we can have in-person interaction as well as keep bloggers up to date on our great product. We’ve also held contests and done outreach via social media that resulted in some great interaction with the blogger community. Over the years, we’ve developed great relationships and hope to continue to do so.

Valentina K. Wein, Food Blogger

Cooking On The Weekends

Q: How can produce companies do a better job working with Food Bloggers?

I’d love to attend more presentations like the one Robert Schueller, Melissa'sdirector of Public Relations, did at PMA Fresh Summit 2014.It's so great to learn not only about current produce trends, but also those that are on the horizon. This information provides for original and interesting content. I would love to be invited to these presentations year-round.

 

About the Author
Wendy Hirschhorn is CEO of Wendy’s Bloggers, a bridge for food manufacturers to create valuable relationships with Mommy Bloggers and their followers. For more information visit www.wendysbloggers.com or contact Wendy at 212-826-8790 or wendy@wendysbloggers.com.

 

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