Guest opinion: It’s time to change the food conversation
April 23, 2015
KANSAS CITY – April 22, 2015 – "We're feeding the world" is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for modern food production systems. However, the latest research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) shows that most consumers don't seem to care.
"The global population is forecast to reach nine billion by 2050. Feeding the nine billion will require technology and innovation that will help farmers raise more animals for food and grow more crops on the land already in production," said Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI. "But the 'feeding the world' message won't generate public support for today's agriculture technology."
In fact the latest research from The Center for Food Integrity, "Cracking the Code on Food Issues: Insights from Moms, Millennials and Foodies," shows that only 25 percent of consumers believe, "The U.S. has a responsibility to provide food for the rest of the world."
"It's time to change the conversation," said Arnot.
What consumers care about most, according to the survey, is having access to healthy, affordable food. For the last two years, that's been a top concern.
"U.S. consumers are much more interested in access to healthy, affordable food than in feeding the world," Arnot said. "Farmers are more likely to build support for today's farming by talking about how what they do on the farm helps keep healthy food affordable."
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For example, share with them how modern farming innovations like genetically modified seed and indoor animal handling systems allow farmers to produce safe food using fewer resources, with the added benefit of holding down costs, he said.
"Building trusting relationships with consumers is about making what you're doing relevant to them and helping them understand that you share their values when it comes to important issues like animal care, the environment and providing healthy, affordable food " he said. "Our peer-reviewed and published trust model tells us that communicating with shared values is three-to-five times more important to building consumer trust than simply providing information."
"Helping consumers understand that you value what's important to them goes a long way toward building trust," said Arnot.
A summary of the CFI research, "Cracking the Code on Food Issues: Insights from Moms, Millennials and Foodies," can be downloaded at http://www.foodintegrity.org. Contact CFI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CFI is a not-for-profit organization with members that represent every segment of the food system. CFI does not lobby or advocate for individual food companies or brands. Participating organizations represent the diversity of the food system, from farmers and ranchers to universities, NGOs, restaurants, food companies, retailers and food processors.