Consumers should keep an open mind about technology and innovation in the food system, says Tamay Kiper, Senior Manager of Member and Advisory Services at Sustainable Brands. At the same time, they are understandably skeptical of companies and brands in light of history.
During the Industrial Revolution, for example, many companies focused more on creating cheap products quickly than on worker well-being and environmental stewardship.
“Consumers are correct to be skeptics and ask for more information,” Kiper says. Food companies and brands should focus on shaping their work with publicly available peer-reviewed articles and evidence. “We need to see who funded the research. Is it peer-reviewed? How true is this? These are some of the really important things going forward.”
From June 4-7, Kiper and the Sustainable Brands team will host food leaders at SB ’18 Vancouver for networking and conversations around those core issues shaping consumer trust in food. Farm Journal Media and Trust In Food™ are official media partners of the event.
During the week, some of the leaders from companies such as Arla Foods, BASF, Campbell Soup Company, Chick-fil- A, Danone, Dow, Driscoll’s, HEINEKEN, Nestlé and PepsiCo, which are also in the SB Corporate Membership Network, will share updates on their sustainability initiatives.
“Not only one brand can tackle this overnight,” Kiper points out. “It needs to be a collaborative approach.”
She encourages food-system leaders to attend to network with and gain insights from like-minded progressive and visionary experts in food and agriculture and find opportunities for cross-industry collaboration to tackle problems with other leaders in the space. Positively for the food system, a recent Sustainable Brands survey notes consumers view food as one of only a few industries that is working to adapt to the public’s changing view of the good life. That creates an opportunity for the food industry to identify ways to be more transparent, just, affordable and progressive.
“It’s a really fine balance, and brands should take more of a visionary approach to avoid unintended consequences while raising and improving the quality and nutritional value of products,” Kiper says.
Companies that Kiper says are adapting to consumer needs include Panera, which has committed to simplifying ingredients so consumers understand what is in their food; Danone, which has launched a soil health initiative to support sustainable agriculture and farming communities; and Kashi, which has introduced a transitional label to reward farmers transitioning to USDA Organic production.
To register for SB ’18 Vancouver or for more information, visit sustainablebrands.com.