Should we bother trying to get consumers closer to farmers?


This post can also be seen at www.pastureharmonies.org

It is often said that farmers need to get closer to consumers.

And while it is possible, and some marketers have set up the facility to, for a bar code (or QR code) to show exactly where a piece of meat came from, even though that’s good it’s not really the point.

Sure, often the marketer will be telling a story associated with the meat’s provenance.

However, my argument is that within the huge quantity of meat sold around the world, the brave battle of such tiny efforts is worthy but not enough.

The reason that farmers want to get closer to consumers is because then you’re NOT commodity. It means you ARE differentiated.

This is an argument that if we give ourselves a helicopter view of what we produce, and much more importantly how we produce, then we automatically link consumers with our farmers (and we should start at the consumer – the fact we can produce something doesn’t mean a thing).

By naming that method (pasture Harmonies), which after all can only be carried out on-farm, we change the mental relationship of the consumer to what they’re going to eat (or wear or put on their floors).

Imagine then, a pasture Harmonies co-brand quietly sitting alongside a marketer’s brand.

Immediately (because we’d be telling the pH story in many different ways) a consumer would have the ultimate validation of it being the way they’d farm if they farmed themselves.

A consumer could, easily, imagine themselves to be that farmer.

At the moment, that’s much too much a bridge too far. A consumer can’t be sure how ‘our’ produce is made. There’s nothing like an ‘Intel Inside’ guarantee. (They can’t with other protein production methods either, but one thing we would be trying to show/prove is that we’re not feedlot, not ‘industrial’).

And finally, want to know the best thing about naming our story, and enabling consumers to get closer to farmers?

We don’t have to make anything up. It’s all true. What we’d be doing is owning responsible pastoralism and providing a means for that consumer to feel good about their choice.

We’d be linking consumers’ hearts with farmers’.

Or would we?

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About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
This entry was posted in high tech, Innovation, Processed food, SciBlogs, sustainability, technology, value added food and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Should we bother trying to get consumers closer to farmers?

  1. kelly says:

    As a consumer with a keen interest in how our food is produced, I can confidently state two things; consumers are divided between those who don’t know/care what they’re eating and where it comes from, and those who are increasingly militant and informed about precisely that.
    Farmers are going to have to decide which market they value and act accordingly.
    Personally, we do not have a huge disposable income but will go out of our way and spend more to eat responsibly produced food; we will go without meat rather than eat garbage, and we are not alone. Food production and animal welfare are becoming fundamental ethical issues to many people whether farmers are aware of or comfortable about this or not. Despite the (entirely deserved) negative publicity around the pork and poultry industries, the majority of ungulate farmers in NZ have relatively humane regimes in place and should be doing a lot more to differentiate themselves in this respect, *before* the catastrophic stupidity and culpability of feedlot/intensive practice becomes more widely known and reviled. It’s involvement in disease genesis and distribution is also becoming a major issue and will ultimately figure in intensive farming’s demise in many countries. How we farm and treat our environment and other animals are fundamental to our own wellbeing. Farmers need to consider this now.
    Most people I know are shifting toward eating less meat, for a myriad of reasons. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it; we are just becoming increasingly wary of it’s origins and environment cost.
    NZ farmers need to declare that they are feedlot free, that they are using land largely unsuitable for arable cropping (there is a LOT of confusion about this issue in many people’s minds), that they are committed to sustainable practice and supplying the local market.

    • sticknz says:

      Hello,

      Excellently put, couldn’t agree more.

      I suspect we’re both on the same page…..let’s name our system to provide such a differentiation for those who care, and are prepared to pay for the products we provide and the method of production.

      Or are we content to fudge the issue?

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