(Bloomberg) – Growers bring their fruit and veg to their consumers, not at a farmer’s market, but on TikTok.
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It started with a baked feta pasta recipe that made its way onto TikTok in January 2021 and went viral on the social media platform. In the videos, home cooks saute cherry tomatoes, olive oil and feta, add herbs and cooked pasta, and the recipe went viral online and in grocery stores. According to data from the International Fresh Produce Association, cherry tomato sales are up about 19% this week. News organizations also widely reported that feta cheese was hard to come by. Today, the #bakedfeta tag has 127.7 million views.
As younger generations buy many products online through social media, including groceries, farmers see an opportunity to put their goods directly into the hands of Millennials and Gen Z groceries.
Viral Baked Feta Pasta Recipe! Inspired by #uunifeta via @liemessa & @tiiupiret #learnontiktok #foodtiktok #foodie
♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 山口夕依
“We need to meet consumers where they are,” said Cathy Burns, chief executive officer of the International Fresh Produce Association. “Millennials are very big buyers today and they continue to influence the economy and Gen Z is right behind them. Social media continues to have untapped potential for our industry.”
There’s mounting evidence that humble crops can steal the limelight with the right nudge. This summer, corn also had a moment in the sun, thanks to a kid affectionately nicknamed “the corn kid” by his internet fans.
children of corn? ???? ???? #recession therapy #corn #cornisgood #fyp #darling
♬ Original sound – Recess Therapy
“Ever since I was told the corn was real, it’s tasted good,” says the boy in the video. “When I tried butter, everything changed.”
READ ALSO: TikTok Video Gives Corn A Viral Moment As Traders Fear Squeeze
Social media is a fairly inexpensive way to market, which represents a real opportunity for the industry, Burns said.
“If you can make it big like the corn boy, there’s a huge advantage,” she said.
One company that stands out is Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Company, which has featured well-known celebrities such as Stephen Colbert and Groot in its pistachio commercials. The owner-managed company grows and sells a variety of grocery products including fruit, nuts, flowers, water, wine and juices. Now, the company is making a new and committed investment in TikTok for many of its brands, including Wonderful Halos, Wonderful Pistachios, POM Wonderful, and Wonderful Seedless Lemons. The company’s in-house advertising agency even has dedicated TikTok experts.
“TikTok’s impact in reaching younger audiences is undeniable,” said Adam Cooper, the company’s senior vice president of marketing. “Investing in TikTok allows us to connect with Millennials and Gen Z in fun and authentic ways that we can’t do with traditional TV or print advertising. It allows for engagement, interaction and a variety of content so there’s something for everyone, in a very timely way that traditional advertising schedules don’t allow for.”
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The Wonderful Company works with influencers across brands. It’s looking for people who genuinely love the products and healthy snacks, Cooper said.
“As a company, we pride ourselves on being innovative in the way we market our products, and TikTok is the next evolving space for brands,” Cooper said.
#WonderfulHalosPartner The best foods have the best memories. For us, @Wonderful Halos reminds us of all our picnics in the park. ❤️ They’re always sweet, seedless, easy to peel – an all-time favorite for Gray and Mom (and the birds too! ????).
♬ Smiles & Sunsets – ultmt.
One of the early partners for the company’s Wonderful Halos brand, which sells tangerines, is @greyandmama, an account owned by Linda Meeker, who gained popularity on social media by sharing videos of her son Gray learning to say “thank you.” accept. She has written a children’s book about healthy eating.
“Super cute and super tasty,” says the kid while peeling a tangerine at the paid partner post.
TikTok can be especially helpful for local farms. At Lonely Pines Farm, a small flower and garlic farm on the Olympic Peninsula, social media is an integral part of the business. Laura Schletzbaum and her husband Jerry Bergstrom have amassed over 3.5 million likes on Tiktok and thousands of followers on Instagram and YouTube. TikTok helped them reach a new customer: young gardeners.
“We have fully integrated social media into our business plan,” said Schletzbaum. “Instagram is the primary source for our local customers, allowing them to buy flowers and garlic directly from us, while Tiktok gives us access to a whole new generation of growers. Nobody would have found us if they hadn’t found us on social media.”
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