Do farms put profit ahead of principle?
The latest consumer research from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) shows a significant gap in consumer perception between current and ideal priorities for commercial farms. CFI surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. consumers to identify consumer priorities for the food system, and what consumers believe priorities are and what they should be for family farms and commercial farms.
The results show that consumers believe commercial farms place profitability as a much higher priority than they believe it should be. Consumers believe profitability is the second highest priority for commercial farms behind producing affordable food. Ideally consumers want profitability to be seventh out of eight potential priorities. There was much closer alignment between current and ideal priorities for family farms.
“If consumers believe commercial farms put profit ahead of producing safe, nutritious food, providing good care to farm animals and protecting the environment, they will continue to support greater oversight of farming,” said Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity. “Building consumer trust and support for today’s farming will require farmers to consistently demonstrate their commitment to responsible production and increase effective consumer outreach and engagement.”
CFI’s 2011 research builds on the organization’s peer reviewed and published trust building model by exploring how to generate support for today’s farming practices. The results not only identify consumer concerns but how those concerns can effectively be addressed.
“We measured the impact of education, training, experience, third party verification and shared values in generating support for the practices of family farms and commercial farms,” Arnot said. “Knowing how each of these impacts consumer support for today’s farming practices can help agriculture create programs that increase consumer trust.”
A detailed report on the findings will be a highlight of the organization’s upcoming Food System Summit. Co-sponsored by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the 6th annual Summit is scheduled for October 25-26 at the InterContinental Rosemont Hotel in Chicago.
The 2011 event will feature experts sharing their views on key issues. Dr. Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund will present a keynote address. Walmart’s Joe Quinn, senior director of Issue Management and Strategic Outreach, will present the closing. Breakout sessions will concentrate on Food Animal Well-Being; Nutrition and Health; Food Safety; and Technology and Innovation.