How Can Agribusiness Tell The Farming Story?
For many years agriculture and food communicators have been trumpeting the fact that “we’re feeding the world” as a lead message to consumers in efforts to build support for modern agricultural production methods and technologies.
But new research from the US-based Center for Food Integrity (CFI) tells us consumers don’t seem to care about the fact that we’ll need to feed nine billion people by 2050. According to the CFI’s latest “Cracking the Code on Food Issues: Insights from Moms, Millennials and Foodies,” research report, only 25 percent of US consumers believe the country has a responsibility to provide food for the rest of the world.”
The CFI found that consumers are more interested in having access to healthy and affordable food that they can trust. CFI CEO Charlie Arnot notes that farmers are more likely to build support for modern agriculture by talking about how their farming practices help keep healthy food affordable. He adds that farmers have the ability to gain consumers’ trust by communicating with shared values; reinforcing to consumers that they share the same concerns for everything from the environment to food safety and health and welfare of animals.
It’s also important to note that farmers maintain a high level of credibility as information sources for consumers when it comes to topics such as the environment, food safety and animal welfare. When farmers connect with consumers based on shared values, there is a tremendous opportunity to explain how innovations like genetically modified seed and indoor animal housing systems allow farmers to produce safe food using fewer resources, with the added benefit of holding costs down, says Arnot.
Unfortunately, consumers often view agricultural businesses like many other businesses, seeing them as greedy corporations, in this case focused more on profit than producing healthy affordable food. How can agribusinesses, from seed, input and agronomic service suppliers to financial lenders and food processors reverse this trend and help tell the farming story?
One way is to explain how your investment, products, technology, expertise or services help make farmers successful. Whether you sell seed, provide management advice, animal health services or work further up the food value chain, you play a role in helping farmers produce and deliver safe, abundant, healthy, affordable food for consumers.
Public scrutiny of modern farming technologies, practices and values will continue to increase. And farmers will have to play a lead role in telling the positive story to skeptical consumers. But agribusiness could also make a huge impact. It all starts with understanding how you contribute to providing access to healthy, affordable food.