First Steps to Closing Trust Gaps

February 3, 2018 11:21 AM
Trust in Food Symposium panel

Today, a startling 94% of U.S. consumers have no connection to agriculture, and 43% mistrust how their food is grown and produced. The good news is never before has there been such great interest among consumers in understanding the journey their food takes from field to table. The combination of these facts is why Farm Journal Media recently launched the Trust In Food™ platform, a major 10-year initiative to rebuild trust in the food system.

“The Trust In Food™ platform is critical to all of our futures,” says Farm Journal CEO Andy Weber. “Understanding and respecting what consumers believe and working with food companies are table stakes for the future generation of farmers.”

Farm Journal is ideally positioned to execute an ambitious strategy helping bridge the serious divide between consumers and the farmers, ranchers and growers who underpin our food supply. Doing that requires the ability to convene multiple stakeholders, which includes agribusinesses, food companies, food retailers and NGOs.

To expand the reach of the effort directly to consumers, Farm Journal has developed a partnership with WPP, the world’s largest marketing agency with strong expertise in the consumer arena. Overall, the platform is built on three pillars. The first is an ongoing dialogue across the supply chain about key issues affecting trust. The platform kicked off Jan. 23 in Chicago with the inaugural Trust In Food™ Symposium bringing together 200 executives from across the food supply chain.

During the off-the-record event, attendees participated in thought-provoking conversations about five key drivers of consumer trust: health and nutrition; safety and security; affordability; animal welfare; and conservation agriculture.

The second pillar of the Trust In Food™ platform involves documenting on-farm practices related to conservation agriculture, nutrient management and animal welfare. In addition, a variety of educational activities will activate farmers to learn and adopt additional best practices. Throughout the efforts, Farm Journal Media will link producers to partnerships with companies and organizations across the supply chain.

The third pillar involves engaging consumers about the food system where they live, grow, shop, learn and relax. With food company backing and their relationships with consumers, the Trust In Food™ effort will use data, science-based facts and case studies to underpin authentic storytelling through the voices of farmers.

The Symposium highlighted the need for the Trust In Food™ platform as speakers touched on common needs. First, there is widespread agreement a trust gap exists between consumers and the food system. More work must be done to share the perspective of farmers, ranchers and growers with consumers. That’s because consumers trust producers more than other sources.  

Second, there is consensus that innovation in science, technology and food marketing messages is needed to cultivate consumer trust, manage risks associated with climate change and respond to investors seeking greater transparency.

Third, there is recognition the food system must speak with a unified voice or risk confusing food buyers.

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