18 Dec Transparency Builds Trust – What Food Consumers Expect from Food Producers
Through their wallets, computers and smartphones, today’s food consumer is having more influence than ever before over the way food is being raised, produced and sold.
The need to gain consumer trust has never been more important. Telling our story and transparency in food production has never been more critical. As cow calf producers, we play an integral role in gaining this trust as agents and ambassadors of our industry, by telling our story and engaging the consumer directly. After all, if we don’t tell our story who will?
Enter the new age of marketing in agriculture. Suddenly consumers who have questions about our industry simply Google it. If they don’t find the answers they are looking for, they post questions on their social networks. Conversations are started and questions get answered. The uncertainty for food production (and all industries for that matter) in this virtual marketplace, lies in the fact that the people who “answer” may have little to no knowledge in what they are talking about. As a result, misinformation becomes fact. Complicated answers become black-and-white and conversation becomes argument, leaving our consumer confused and concerned and our industry reactively defensive.
Telling Your Story
The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity recently posted results from their 2017 Canadian Public Trust Research Initiative. The web-based survey initiative gathered information and insights from a span of over 1300 respondents who reflect the general Canadian consumer population. Findings from the survey proved that food safety, climate change and the humane treatment of animals were recorded as top of mind when it comes to food production concerns.
As the general population moves farther and farther from a grassroots connection to agriculture, our consumer connection and understanding gap also widens. Our customers want examples and real working accountability to address these concerns. Not that we are perfect, but they want to know we are improving, that we are driving change and that we care. Consumers are demanding more information and transparency about the food they are eating and verification that it is being done in a way that is acceptable. In some cases, they want to understand the path that steak or hamburger that they are eating took, all the way back to the farm or ranch where it was raised. They want to feel good about the food choices that they make for themselves and their families.
The consumer plays the most significant role in the future and the direction of our beef production.
Transparency is key to building trust and talking about what you do is key to being transparent.
When it comes to building trust, the consumer must believe that we are acting in their interest, that we are honest and transparent in what we do, that we have the necessary expertise, and a value system and views that are, if not completely compatible, then at least not in conflict with their own. After all, we all want to feed our families with food that is safe and raised sustainably too.
Look to actively engage with all consumers and share your experiences.
The more that we help food consumers understand the diverse, complex and fascinating world of food production, the more respect and understanding our industry earns. As beef producers in Canada we provide some of the safest, highest quality beef in the world. Let’s share our experiences, our future depends upon it.