“Using farmers as educators, not mascots”

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When it comes to finding trustworthy sources about food production, 53 percent of Americans view farmers and ranchers as good sources of information, according to the white paper report, “Emerging Faith in Food Production,” by Sullivan Higdon & Sink FoodThink.

“Joining positive word-of-mouth about food production should be a goal for the food industry. Friends and family are the most trusted sources of food production information, with 57 percent of Americans considering them somewhat or very trustworthy on the subject,” states the report. “There have been some notable shifts in trusted sources compared to 2012 data. Though friends and family are still the most trusted source today, less consider them so, compared to 66 percent in 2012.”

With 77 percent of Americans still considered to have poor knowledge about farming and ranching, analyst stress the importance of companies stepping aside and letting farmers do the educating about the industry, instead of just using them as a face to promote it.

“In the past decade, there has been a proliferation of advertisements and marketing featuring farmers in an attempt to build brand credibility and favorability,” states page 18 of the report. “There is the real risk that the trust in this icon will become diluted as a result of exploitation. Sure, consumers want to know the real people who produce their food, but they don’t expect them to be brand mascots. They can sniff out “faux farmers. Instead, utilize farmers and ranchers to impart education via appropriate touch points, and as a result, preserve the authenticity of this valuable asset to your brand.”

The 22 page report also highlights other major trends such as what categories of consumers want to know more about where there food comes from and the amount who believe they have a good understanding of the industry.

Statistical highlights from the report include:

  • 65 percent want to know more about where their food comes from.
  • 34 percent agree that the agriculture industry is transparent.
  • 31 percent believe food companies are transparent in food production practices.
  • 67 percent think more education opportunities should be made by the food industry to inform people on how their food is produced.

“At the end of the day, there is still much work to be done in building consumers’ trust in the food industry,” states the report. “However, new data shows that the industry is starting to move in the right direction, with improved perceptions of industry transparency and reduced consumer concern about some food production topics.”

Implications such as being proactive in food production dialogue with consumers by delivering a unified message from credible sources are suggested in the commitment of building consumer trust.

To review the full report, click here.

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