As marketers of fresh produce, we know how to craft beautiful stories around our unique product attributes. However, it can be a bit more difficult to create a meaningful story about our practices. If you are putting time and energy into sustainability, I guarantee you have an incredible story to share... but are you tapping into it?
Here's How To Tap Into The Potential Of Your Sustainability Story
Start With Your Message
How do we build a meaningful story around sustainability? Start with your message. We recently discussed some important findings around what shoppers are reporting on sustainability. A key takeaway: they need more information from you to make an informed decision.
Fresh produce companies are doing incredible work every day to bring food to tables in a way that is more efficient and kinder to people and our planet. There are so many great things to share! Consider starting with a list of 5-10 sustainability efforts that are improving:
- The people in your company (ie. social equity for farmers)
- The planet (ie. energy efficiency, water use, solar, recyclability)
If you don't already have a messaging guide that clearly defines your sustainability messaging as a value proposition, we highly recommend creating one. Learn more about messaging guides here.
Share Your Efforts
It may feel strange at first to share what feels like commonplace business practices in the world of agriculture, but you must take the perspective of the shopper. The good news: shoppers care about your efforts. The bad news: shoppers are being greenwashed at every turn.
The work we are doing is complex and important, consumers only need to be better informed and educated. Even the smallest changes within your business are making a huge impact on the supply chain and are improving the lives of others. That is a story worth sharing!
Consider ways to spread the word:
- Think about the appropriate channels that will reach your intended audience (are you focused on reaching trade audiences or sharing more with consumers)?
- Think about marketing tactics that will help you get there (a big campaign, refreshed social media content, or maybe media pitching to major publications).
Look At Footsteps to Follow
When I think of companies in our industry that focus on putting sustainability at the center of their story, I think of companies like 4Earth Farms who neatly place three words next to their logo: People. Produce. Planet. They are actively working to make responsible choices throughout the supply chain. I also think of Duncan Family Farms, a well-known organic grower who recently became Sustainably Grown Certified- going above and beyond organic with farming practices that enrich the soil and keep water efficiency and sustainability at the forefront of what they do.
There are incredible stories forming around sustainability in greenhouse-grown products and technology that is allowing food to stay fresher and last longer and major grower-shippers are now aligning themselves closely with important groups like Fair Trade and EFI.
If you want to see someone who is having a lot of fun with this, take a look at how Equifruit is talking about bananas. From sharks to cellphones, they are clearly targeting Gen Z to elevate their fair trade story.
Outside of fresh produce, sustainable food companies are successfully sharing their stories. Companies like:
Patagonia Provisions shares “our foods are the products of forward-thinking farmers, ranchers, and fishermen who embrace growing methods that regenerate and restore our resources, rather than depleting them. It’s a partnership with nature that results in delicious, high-quality products while simultaneously shaping a more responsible, farsighted approach to our global food system.”
Justin’s sites that bees are responsible for 1 in 3 bites of food that we eat – including almonds and honey – both ingredients in Justin’s nut butters. Yet honeybee colonies are disappearing at a rate of about 40% per year, which means that California beekeepers only have a quarter of the bees they need to pollinate their crops. Justin’s is actively working to save the bees, which will in turn help save our food supply and preserve life for both plants and animals.
Nature’s Path: Two of three facilities have achieved Zero Waste Certification, which means nearly all of their waste is reused, recycled, or composted. They’re also committed to conserving water, becoming carbon neutral, and improving the environmental quality in their surrounding community and beyond. 100% of what they produce is organic and they share that message with consumers.
Look for Resources
As you continue to shape your story you may also want to consider ways to enhance your current programs or find out more about new technologies that could make your business more sustainable. Lean on industry resources for inspiration and education. IFPA has sustainability-focused materials on their site that you can tap into.
Of course (as your favorite team of marketers) we are also available to chat about strategic ways to develop messaging or to help you create a plan to share your story in the most meaningful way with trade and consumer partners. Let's chat.