Are Veggies Key To Gaining Young Customers?

Millennials are our nation’s youngest adults with serious buying power, and they could be your best customers.


Fruits and Vegetables Matter
Produce For Better Health’s “Fruits & Veggies More Matters” site includes a wealth of resources.

Civic-minded, cause-oriented, solution-focused, entrepreneurial, ambitious, idealistic do’ers. These are all words commonly used to describe your new customer, the Millennial generation, adults ages 18 to 34, who are also called Generation Y and “Echo Boomers.”

The children of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials are the last generation born in the 20th century. They’ve grown up digital and they’re fully plugged in. They have close relationships with their parents and many still live at home after completing their educations, searching for jobs and returning for advanced degrees and consequently, even deeper student loan debt. The recession has hit this generation hard, teaching them some real-life lessons that they’re not going to make 60K out of the gate.

But from a lack of economic security has sprung creativity and entrepreneurial jobs. More members of Generation Y are starting businesses than earlier generations. A recent report states there are 80,000 bartenders in America with bachelor’s degrees, a job that provides decent money while allowing young adults to further their education and pursue creative interests. Meanwhile, a 2012 report by the Kauffman Foundation, reported that 29.4% of entrepreneurs were 20 to 34 years old, and roughly 160,000 start-ups a month were led by Millennials in 2011.

The school of hard knocks has taught Millennials the benefits of hands-on work and as a result, this generation has become less elitist than their parents about any distinction between white and blue collar jobs. Instead, this generation feels a general sense of distrust for large organizations and government, with their mantra focusing more on the Triple Bottom Line: people, plant, profits.


5 Ways To Gen Y

So, as a produce grower, how do you leverage the Gen Y demographic? A few basic principles include:
1. Go digital, be visible: Just having a web site is not enough. Gen Y is on the go, so a mobile app is most effective.
2. Be transparent: Millennials want to know about your operation and your practices. Don’t hold back: tell your story and include your operation’s history.
3. Educate, don’t confuse: Millenials want to learn but mostly they want solutions. Provide practical advice about what plants to grow together and how to put it together. Or if you’re selling produce, offer low-cost, healthy recipes that are simple. And don’t forget serving sizes, a reported area of confusion for some Millennials.
4. Provide cost comparisons: Help dispel the myth that produce costs more than junk food by offering real-life cost comparisons of your products compared to less healthy options.
5. Promote, promote, promote: Use resources like the Produce For Better Health’s “Fruits & Veggies More Matters” campaign, the Center for Disease Control’s “Fruits and Veggies Matter” site and others to help you communicate the benefits of eating fresh produce.

Millennials like getting their hands dirty and working outside. They are concerned about the environment, and they value local business and enjoy cooking and experimenting with new foods. And despite their high student loan debts and disproportionate earnings, their values make Millennials more likely to spend more money on food (read: produce) that has been grown locally and sustainably by a small grower or community farm than from traditional grocery chains. Or, they’ll be creative and use the space they have to grow their own. Long story short, they’re your ideal customer.

Still, costs are a big concern for Generation Y, between the high cost of gas, rising food costs and unrelenting debt. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture addresses the debate that healthy food is pricey. For years, many consumers have said they cannot afford to eat fruits and vegetables. In the past, studies have measured the price of groceries based on a price-per-calorie scenario, in which fruits and vegetables were frequently found to be more expensive than snack food like chips or candy.

However, this new USDA study calculates food costs on price-per-calorie, as well as price-per-edible-weight (calculated price based on weight of food prepared) and price-per-average-amount (how much people actually eat of the food). Foods used in the study came from a database of more than 4,000 items, that were then sorted into several groups — grains, dairy, fruit, vegetables and proteins, as well as mixed dishes and less healthy items.

CDC's Fruits and Vegetables Matter
The Center for Disease Control’s “Fruits and Veggies Matter” site includes tips and publications.

Here’s what USDA found:

  • If the price-per-calorie model is used, fruits and vegetables will tend to be more expensive than less healthy food.
  • If the price-per-edible-weight or the price-per-average-amount is used, then grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and less healthy food.

Let’s not forget the ultimate cost of food: long-term health. Generation Y consumers are realizing that using food as medicine is better for them now and in the long run by preventing illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and types of cancer.

To learn more about the advantages of growing produce, look for upcoming Hot Topics issues in print and online. and if you’re in the market for efficient heating and irrigation vegetable greenhouse systems, contact a Delta T Solutions Representative by calling 800-552-5058 or emailing more than 30 years providing greenhouse water management systems, Delta T Solutions can offer a customized plan for your greenhouse operation.


Delta T Solutions
27711 Diaz Rd, Suite B, Temecula, CA 92590 • 800.552.5058 • 760.682.0428 (fax) •