Marriages of licensed characters and fresh produce have come up regularly over the years, but the sector has been as active this year as any time in recent memory. The deals have taken a variety of forms, from branded packaging to promotional initiatives, and have involved a number of different types of partners, from restaurants to consumer packaged goods brands to nonprofit groups. In most cases, the goal is to encourage consumers, especially children, to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables:
- Just Salad, a restaurant chain focused on healthy offerings, collaborated with Sesame Workshop starting in October on a produce-forward kids menu tied to Sesame Street, for children aged 4-12. Menu items include salads; chicken, vegetable, and rice bowls; avocado toast; and fruit smoothies; among others. All have names tied to different Sesame Street characters or educational concepts like letters.
- Veg Power UK, a charity with a mission to encourage kids to eat more vegetables, announced in October that it was working with Aardman Animations’ Shaun the Sheep in a two-year agreement. Plans call for branded resources including in-school programs and puzzles and activity packs, available on the Veg UK website, to inspire families to add more quantity and variety of vegetables to their day.
- CrunchPak, a marketer of sliced apples, paired in June with Microsoft’s Mojang and Kellogg’s to market a convenient snack pack that brought together Cheez-It crackers and sliced apples in a Minecraft-branded package meant to appeal to both gamers and non-gamers. Kellogg’s agent, The Joester Loria Group, brokered the deal, which brought CrunchPak’s products to a new audience that is older than its core market of young children.
- Fresh Del Monte, a brand of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, partnered in June with Zag’s Miraculous for a promotional deal in Europe. The initiative included produce featuring the characters on packaging; contests accessible through QR codes printed on the bags, with prizes including a trip to Paris; and an interactive digital tour of Miraculous’ Paris setting.
- Last April, three produce companies, citrus marketer Sunkist, berry purveyor Naturipe, and apple brand Envy, all teamed with Wildbrain CPLG for a Strawberry Shortcake-themed promotion tied to Mother’s Day. Images of the characters appeared on limited-edition packaging of blood oranges, strawberries and blueberries, and apples, as well as on in-store displays and in content on the brands’ websites.
- Dole partnered with Disney in January 2023 for a five-month program called Fruit Love Stories, which celebrated the role of fresh fruit in life and encouraged fans to consume more fruit. The program included recipes, social posts, and downloads featuring Disney classic characters highlighting different fruit varieties, along with some vegetables. There were also elements such as limited-edition collectible banana stickers and pineapple tags featuring the Disney characters, as well as point-of-sale materials in stores.
In addition to these character-based efforts to increase consumption, fresh produce companies have been active participants in brand-extension initiatives of late. Chiquita retained The Joester Loria Group in October to represent it in securing licensing deals in categories such as beverages, frozen novelties, dairy items, baked goods, and nutritional products. Dole, represented by Beanstalk, announced several new deals in May, including with Dyla Brands for drink mixes. And in April Coca-Cola licensed its juice properties Simply and Minute Maid to Frutura’s Dayka & Hackett brand for fresh oranges and grapes.