OneHarvest’s marketing team scooped the 2014 PMA-Produce Plus Marketer of the Year Award for its Love Beets campaign. Here, key members of the team discuss the successful launch, and their plans to build on it. 

OneHarvest enjoyed a very productive visit to Auckland for this year’s PMA Fresh Connections event.

OneHarvest’s winning team (l-r): Robert Munton, beetroot project manager; Nicole Lenske, brand manager; Sarah Lubikowski, product manager; Andrew Francey, GM commercial; and Helen Warren, marketing manager

OneHarvest’s winning team (l-r): Robert Munton, beetroot project manager; Nicole Lenske, brand manager; Sarah Lubikowski, product manager; Andrew Francey, GM commercial; and Helen Warren, marketing manager

The company came away with the 2014 PMA-Produce Plus Marketer of the Year Award for its marketing campaign for Love Beets, a range of cooked, 100 per cent-natural baby beetroot. 

OneHarvest became the first Australian company to win the prestigious award. And the fact that the presentation was made at Eden Park, the celestial fortress of New Zealand rugby, made the victory a touch sweeter.

To top it off, OneHarvest’s new New Zealand partner for Love Beets, Freshmax, was able to showcase the range of products at Fresh Connections, ahead of the product’s entry to the New Zealand market, where it hit retail shelves on 1 August. 

“The day after winning the award at the Fresh Connections dinner, Freshmax reported that they had quite a few people coming up to them on the trade show floor asking how they could get the product, so the excitement the award created was really great,” says OneHarvest’s general manager of corporate marketing Brenda Walker.

Love Beets in their Australian-grown form were launched by OneHarvest at the beginning of this year, following the positive consumer reception to a trial version from the UK. And they have certainly invigorated the beetroot category in Australia. 

The convenience, versatility and health benefits of the product have inspired a whole new range of uses beyond garnishing the traditional Aussie burger. 

“All our research told us that while consumers loved the idea of fresh beetroot, they were put off by the mess and often didn’t know how to prepare or cook it,” says Walker. “It pointed to them wanting something that was quick and easy to use. Love Beets gives them that convenience with a fresh and natural product that tastes so much better than the canned alternative because it has no artificial additives.” 

Indeed, “reinventing beetroot” has been one of the keys to the success of the campaign, according to OneHarvest’s brand manager Nicole Lenske. “We’re now seeing beetroot featuring in recipes for chocolate brownies or accompanying goat’s cheese on pizzas, rather than just sliced up on a burger. 

Beetroot’s become a hot product, very popular in high-end restaurants and regularly appearing on TV cooking shows.” 

The Love Beets product range includes infused lines

The Love Beets product range includes infused lines

Telling the story 

Developing an Australian look and feel to the brand, livery and website for Love Beets was also a key building block of OneHarvest’s campaign, according to Walker, who explains that the team worked closely with a number of external agencies to deliver the programme. 

The look and feel of the brand were developed by Andy Mathers at graphic design house Corporate Identity.

OneHarvest then worked with Grapevine PR on the media outreach, and the Love Beets story succeeded in securing widespread coverage spanning mainstream consumer publications as well as business, retail and agricultural media. 

“There were a lot of good story angles,” notes Walker. “The last Australian beetroot processor [Windsor Farms] had recently shut down when we launched Love Beets. So amid the doom and gloom, here was a positive story about reinvigoration of an industry that caught people’s imagination.”

OneHarvest opened a purpose-built, A$3.4m facility in Bairnsdale, Victoria, earlier this year for processing and packing the product, which is grown in Cowra, New South Wales. 

“There was also the ‘health and wellness’ angle, with beetroot being acknowledged as being very good for you,” Walker says. “We targeted specific journalists in terms of gaining exposure for the product and it worked extremely well, generating heaps of positive coverage for the brand.” Walker says outreach to nutritionists and other key influencers such as food bloggers also presented a new and effective avenue for the campaign. “When you have a third-party with their own established network of followers endorsing your product, it’s much more powerful,” she notes. 

OneHarvest worked with Bloe Creative on the development of a specific digital advertising component to the campaign, which swung into action to build on an initial push via social media sites Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Indeed, Lenske says one of the key learnings for OneHarvest from the campaign was the value that social media can offer. “We hadn’t done much in this space at all, but we knew it would be a key way to engage consumers,” she says. “We got a handle on the power of social media with things like recipes and the conversations that can be started. And the great thing here is the longevity of the benefits, as the conversations continue.”  

Walker adds that those online conversations fed off OneHarvest’s in-store activities in the traditional retail channels, including shelf wobblers and talkers, and coverage in in-store catalogues. 

Retail penetration

Love Beets is now stocked in around 2,000 retail outlets across Australia, according to Walker, and while she cannot divulge sales figures, she says some stores are selling up to 100 units per week. 

Both Coles and Woolworths are ranging the product in their fresh produce aisles. “Major retailers have all come on board and have been great supporters of the vacuum-pack beetroot offer,” says Lenske.

Support from the independent retail sector has also grown strongly. “I think the Australian-grown message struck a chord with the greengrocers, and Love Beets appealed to the kind of shoppers that buy from these stores who are increasingly seeking healthy, wholesome and natural products.” 

Indeed, having an ambient product with a six-month shelf-life in its product range, Love Beets has enabled OneHarvest to extend its reach and penetrate small stores in a big way.  

“Our GM of operations, who is based at our processing plant in Bairnsdale, Victoria, lives in a village nearby. And he called us to say he’d seen Love Beets selling in his local general store,” says Walker. “That’s indicative of the reach this product has now achieved.”

Retailers who have moved the product out of the chilled cabinet and into floor displays have seen good results, Lenske adds. 

“Some of them have been merchandising them out of gorgeous-looking timber tubs, making a feature of the product, and they’ve placed them where people are more likely to purchase them.” 

Grower Ed Fagan (left) with OneHarvest’s Robert Munton

Grower Ed Fagan (left) with OneHarvest’s Robert Munton

Spreading its wings

On the question of where next for Love Beets, Walker says penetrating new channels is a key focus. “Most of our product is selling in 250g packs at retail for around A$3, but we see opportunities in food service with larger packs.” Having already launched the product in New Zealand, OneHarvest is eyeing opportunities in Asia. Love Beets generated significant interest from Asian buyers at a reverse trade mission recently organised by Ausveg, according to Walker, who notes that OneHarvest will be promoting the product at Asia Fruit Logistica in September.  

Having partnered with UK company G’s to secure and implement the proprietary technology in Australia, OneHarvest has some degree of protection from copycats, according to Walker, but she acknowledges that the advantage of being first to market will only ever last so long.  

Rather than looking over its shoulder, OneHarvest is looking ahead to how this technology can also be applied to other products in the future, while its immediate focus is on growing its existing range and consolidating its already broad distribution. 

The upcoming summer months present an exciting opportunity to do so. “We’re heading into the traditional beetroot-eating season with the approach to summer,” says Walker. “We expect to see Love Beets playing a starring role at barbecues, not only on burgers, but also sliced with balsamic dressing in salads, as people start entertaining.” 

The OneHarvest team will be first to raise a toast to that.