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Produce grower using QR codes to connect with shoppers
The retailer threw down the gauntlet: Give shoppers more information and tips on how to use their product – without covering the product and adding bulk.
Tanimura & Antle didn't shy away from the challenge. Instead, they turned to available technology, choosing to use quick read codes, more commonly known are QR codes or QRCs.
This winter the produce grower, which has a cooler in Yuma, put the code graphic on packages of its Field Fresh Lettuce line, which includes romaine lettuce, red and green leaf, endive and escarole varieties.
At the grocery store, shoppers can now scan the code with their smartphones and learn more about the product.
Diana McClean, Tanimura & Antle director of marketing, noted this is not the first time that QRC technology has been utilized, but it represents a new approach.
“QR codes have been in use for a number of years, but the technology has gotten better. Phone communications are better so scan successes are better. The sophistication of users has also improved,” McClean explained.
The scan takes the shopper to a website, but as McClean noted, “not just a website. We wanted to give the consumer specific usable content.”
Shoppers get recipes and shopping lists and access to YouTube videos about how the produce was grown and got to the store. They also get tips on how to prepare a variety of meals using the lettuce.
“It's a way to provide shoppers with the right information on the spot,” McClean noted. “It's the only venue we have to talk directly to the consumer. The packaging has to do with the work for us.”
McClean also noted that “people want to receive information visually.” All videos are also available on www.taproduce.com.
Narrated by two fourth-generation family members, cousins Brian Antle and Caitlin Antle-Wilson (who work in the harvest and sales departments respectively), the series of videos walk consumers through a complete field-to-fork tour, including the field packing process, cooling, delivery to market and preparation.
“Showing is much more effective than telling, and using videos paired with QRC technology, we can be very effective in showing where your produce comes from, and how simple it is to prepare field packed lettuce,” McClean said.
The company also hopes the videos bring consumers closer to the Tanimura & Antle family, which has several members involved in the daily operations of this 30-year farming partnership. This includes family patriarchs George Tanimura and Bob Antle.
So far the use of the technology has been deemed a success. “Traffic is good,” McClean said.
In addition, Tanimura & Antle is using QRC technology as part of its sales strategy in the food service market. The grower has put codes on the cases of field-packed Artisan Lettuce and Artisan Romaine.
The aim is to engage and inform food service partners and chefs, McClean said.
“When the chef receives the case in his kitchen, the QR code shows him information about the product and different ways to prepare it.”
The QR codes showcase a “behind the scenes” look at the growing process, as well as preparation tips specific to food service that demonstrate the value with each product, she noted.
“It's a way to talk directly to chefs and support our distributors. We're trying to be strategic. There's not a huge sales force out in the field talking to chefs, and distributors sell a variety of products. The challenge is knowing all the details,” McClean said.
“This is an effective way for us to take advantage of real-time technology to help our food service partners tell the story of these unique products and their exceptional value and menu versatility to the culinary professional.”
Tanimura & Antle is also taking advantage of a trend.
“With over 4 billion views a day on YouTube, and a growing interest in preparation videos, we believe making these tools easily available through QR codes is a powerful communication strategy,” she said. She pointed out that Tanimura & Antle has a track record of innovation in the produce industry by using technology to improve efficiency in delivering and marketing fresh produce throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
For example, recent field implementation of Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) compliant case labels allows cases to be traced. Kwikloc labeled iceberg has been in distribution for over three years, with each clip printed with a code that allows a trace back to each head of lettuce.
For more information, visit www.taproduce.com.